Thursday, 20 July 2017

Thank you, and good night ... for now

Those of you who have had to suffer it in previous years will know that my final blog of each year usually sees me in contemplate mood, often bemoaning my own fate, or the state of the world in general.  Although this July finds me equally contemplative, I want to use this space simply to give out some messages of well-wishing, fare well and thanks.

Once again, we have managed to couple a year of some outstanding results – highest ever key stage 2 writing, EYFS, Y1PSC to name a few – with the real nadir of my time at Badock’s which was our November 2016 OfSTED report.  Please don’t think for a heartbeat that I am about to moan on whine in any way, so you might want to continue reading just a moment or two longer.

It would be all too easy to wallow in the pitfalls of what has befallen us.  However, there are a number of mental snapshots I cherish from this year that mean it will still occupy a fond place in my memory.  Our fireworks bonanza, key stage 2’s production of the snow queen, winning the BCC Chess tournament, singing at the Colston Hall,  playing instruments very loudly in the Early years Christingle, the monumental support offered by our community, the endless procession of work and smiles that make each and every day something special, something different.  It most certainly was not all bad.

To the community, it cannot have been easy or pleasant to hear the messages about your school coming out of the OfSTED report, and the subsequent meetings or letters.  However, the unwavering support we received right from the Friday night of publication, and for many weeks beyond, will always stay in my memory.  Furthermore, the support that was then forthcoming through the events that go with such a judgement – TV cameras at the gates, newspaper reports appearing without our comments – was stoically defensive, and meant that it became much easier to continue doing the job we all love.  I hope to bring you better news in times to come, and to share greater successes with you all. 

To our volunteers, including our amazing Buddies of Badocks, never has it been more important to seek support from outside the staffing body.  Thankfully, due to all of your immense efforts, from organising quite wonderful events such as the Summer Party, to our reading buddies who quietly give our children so much time and attention, there are even more things to celebrate in our school.  I hope I have communicated this with you all in various ways, but you are enormously valued and appreciated – thank you so much.

To the governors, who have this year faced more than in possibly any other year of my tenure, we cannot thank you enough for your calm but purposeful leadership of the school, and the way in which you have supported and challenged us all, me especially, to look at things in a different way when required.  Even during last week’s marathon governors’ meeting, I knew that, behind every searching question and every open challenge, the very best interests of the school were quietly lurking, and therefore, in a strange kind of way, I actually enjoyed it.  Nationally, governance in general gets bad press, but, as we have found for a number of years, that is not our experience.  Thank you all, 

To my colleagues, firstly, the fact that we have made it to the end of this year with both improved results and almost negligible absence is a credit to you all.  Secondly, I have never ever questioned you determination and commitment and I think the professionalism I have seen in recent months has been an example for many others.  Please do not think that any of the decisions I have made in recent weeks are a reflection on this, as they most certainly are not.  I would just say that it is my job to make these difficult decisions, and they are all rooted in bringing about the changes we will undoubtedly need in order to bring about the successful outcomes we all crave.  But you can forget about those for a few weeks, whilst you enjoy a thoroughly deserved holiday and break.  Wherever and however you spend your summer, I cannot wish you are more peaceful and enjoyable time if I tried.  You go on your myriad travels with nothing but my most humble respect, and my most sincere thanks.

To those colleagues who are set to leave us, I hope you will look back on your time at Badock’s with enormous fondness, and that we can take pride in but a little part played in your successful journeys from here onwards.  You have all brought so much to the school, and given of yourselves, and I hope our gratitude remains with you until you embark on your next exciting adventure and beyond.

Finally, and the fact that this remains the centre of our world has never once left me, the children.  I have so much to say.  So much in my mind and in my heart that I, for once, am somewhat lost for words.  I guess I just need to say what I need to say, which is:

I am so sorry we were found wanting in November, and I am sorry you had to read and hear bad things about your school.

I am so humbled that you managed this situation with dignity far beyond your years, and have played a full part in making our school better again.

I am so grateful for the work you put into our school every day.

Above all, I am proud to be your Headteacher, and because of you, have managed to enjoy, in my own weird way, the challenges we have faced together in recent months.

And to our year 6 leavers, the young people you have grown into have impressed us all, and we take great delight in enjoying the amazing individuals you have become.  Thank you for the laughs, the jokes, the hugs, and the steely determination to make it all right again.  I wish you nothing but the very, very best in your academic careers going forwards.

You all know how much I love my music and my reading, my poetry and philosophy.  Recently, I was very struck by this quote from one of my favourite philosophers, someone who has been around the block a few times, and, until recently, was almost as grey as me.  This is what he said:

“Winning? Is that what you think it’s about?  I’m not trying to win.  I’m not doing this because I wanna beat someone or because I hate someone, or because I wanna blame someone.  It’s not because it’s fun, and it certainly isn’t easy.  It’s not even because it works because it hardly ever does.

I do what I do because I think it’s right.”

That’s right.  At times like these, turn to Dr Who. 

In conclusion, for another summer at Badock’s – my tenth in fact – I will conclude by using the words of another one of my great philosophers, Australian singer-songwriter Josh Pyke.  If I could wish anything for each of you after this year, it would be this:

If I could bottle up the sea breeze
I would bring it over to your house
And pour it loose through your garden.

With more gratitude than I ever thought I was capable of, I humbly thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  Have the most wonderful, peaceful, restful, joyful summer.  Everyone, breathe, and relax.

Until September, that is all.