Dogs and their Owners

‘Dogs are like their owners’ is the saying that I all too often repeat to beleaguered form tutors who are trying to rectify their year 9 mentees’ ‘feral’ behaviour.  My poor attempts at humorous levity often ‘miss the mark’ and probably need revising.  After all, I own a hyperactive rescue dog, a French Pointer Springer Cross, which would prove my SENCo’s theory, labelling me as an ADHD boy – something I protest too loudly against!

Nevertheless, the analogy that we become like our teacher is, I think, true. Last Sunday, Malvern U16 played their half-term rugby derby against a team of ‘Neanderthals’.  I should have recognised the worrying signs when they arrived an hour before kick-off with more coaches than players, all in matching tracksuits, black and imposing, all with the coaches names emblazoned on the back.  The gum-chewing, unfriendly intensity of the coaches was mirrored by their team, who played unimaginative rugby with the predictable punch-up that meant I spent an unrewarding Valentines afternoon in A&E, as son number one had his nose iced and checked pre his important date.  Mine had by now been cancelled!  Similarly, I feel schools reflect the type of leadership team that runs them, with teachers in this appraisal driven world reflecting those who direct their working lives.

There is an amazing, must see film called ‘Inside Job’ that will simply leave you angry at the state of our nation that allowed the greed of the City to go on unchecked and more remarkably, go on without any bankers/financiers being arrested.  Extraordinarily, the practices remain the same and bankers bonuses continue unchecked and their attitude appears to be above the law.

The behaviour of those in the City, I would argue, is replicated by the politicians whose continued belief is that they are also above the law.  The rise of political leaders such as Corbyn and in the USA Sanders, is a backlash by the young who are tired of the hypocrisy of false promises.  They have an unheralded interest in politics that should be celebrated not sneered at by the media.  They want to believe in politicians/leaders, not simply expect them to say one thing and then behave in this way.

I have reflected on an interesting, although depressing conversation with my pragmatic science teacher who was nonplussed at my surprise and anger at the latest attempt to ‘poach’ my staff by a nearby school. The basic tenet of her argument was ‘This is the world we live in… they and we are businesses, academies… this is what their headteacher and their school is like.’  The implication is that we had to behave in this way or wait to be picked off by those nearest with more cash.  However, the madness of the education system is that we are a mass of contradictions set up in a conservative free-market, ‘dog eat dog’ economy. I, however, would argue we essentially remain a school not a business and I hope that is not too ‘soft’, too much of a dreamer’s perspective but that in the world of academisation running a school ethically can still be a laudable, desirable aim; hopefully, a job that could be desired and achieved by young staff.

I would strongly argue that part of leading a school is that even when things are as difficult as they currently are with rising costs, the changing curriculum and mixed government messages, you need to have a ‘moral compass’.  You stand for something more than an unseemly scramble up the latest league table that measures the ability of children to perform in an exam.  Schools have to be so much more than this and I have to trust in the ethos that I have created where staff and students want to attend and are appreciated.  If people leave, no matter what the circumstance, good luck to them and thanks for their contribution. My job is to find someone at least as good.  I will not become like the corrupt businessmen, politicians and rugby coaches who are too involved in their own small world based on low self-esteem and self-worth, to win at all costs and lack the fundamental value of what is right and wrong.  I will find my collaboration/my business acumen in collaboration with the primaries and will keep the ethos that we are a school at the core of all we do.  Now for that dog walk/pull!

If you like the sound of our school please note we have three teaching vacancies for September 2016 – adverts and application documents are available from the school website:

  • MFL (French and German) – application deadline 10am 14th March 2016
  • English – application deadline 10am on 15th March 2016
  • History (maternity cover) – application deadline 10am 15th March 2016