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What is Success?

In this ever-changing world, which at present also seems rather uncertain and unpredictable, it is easy to find oneself pre-occupied by day-to-day routines and demands, and to overlook the many positives in life!  In school terms, with our sharp focus on improvement, and a particular emphasis on providing challenge, it can be easy to be focused largely on the long-term objectives, meaning that success becomes measured by external factors, such as exam success or competition wins.  Of course, both are important elements of a successful school and very welcome events, and judged by these criteria, we have had a very successful couple of weeks!  Our U10A netball team came back from the recent PGS tournament of 18 schools with the winners’ trophy, only for the U9A netball team to repeat the achievement at their PGS tournament of 20 schools, the following day.  Hot on the heels of these sporting successes, came the news that one of our children had won a Christmas Card design competition; the news that his work would be turned into our local MP’s card for the festive season lit up his face with huge excitement and delight, which was simply wonderful to see.  Fantastic sporting and artistic achievements without doubt, which brought great pleasure to pupils, parents and staff alike.  However, once focused on the question of ‘what does success looks like?’ it quickly becomes evident that it is much more than just these external measures, and that a school’s success is also equally to be found much closer to home.

Spending time within the classroom, and watching the interaction between staff and children, must surely be high on every Head Teacher’s list of ‘favourite aspects of the role’, and it certainly is on mine.  Secure, respectful and positive relationships between adults and peers, enjoyment of the learning process and children gaining in self-confidence and independence are all clearly visible during such visits.  In a KS1 rehearsal for a parent assembly, I saw the enthusiasm and determination of the children to give of their very best, and respond to their teachers’ guidance and encouragement was heart-warming. The homework project which a KS2 child brought to show me, comprising meticulously sewn tubes of coloured material, duly stuffed to give an appropriate 3D effect to represent the digestive process, topped-off with labelled diagrams, was a demonstration of pupil and parental engagement and effort, combined with high expectations and perseverance.  In EYFS, the writing journal which started in September with mark-making, but which has now become clear and cursive handwriting organised in sentences, was a measure of resilience and perseverance on the pupil’s part, combined with trust in the teacher that her target, set at the term outset, was achievable.

All these aspects of everyday classroom practice are measures of a school’s success. They reflect a community where all are committed to achieving personal bests, while also supporting and celebrating the accomplishments of others; where high standards and ambitious targets go hand-in-hand with determination and resilience; where focus and perseverance are combined with a sense of adventure and fun, together with empathetic and caring relationships. 

External measures of a school’s success are clear to see and hugely important, but we should also not under-estimate the importance of the many aspects of a school’s success that quietly happen every day.

Heather Hopson-Hill, Head Teacher



Published on 23/11/2017