So, what makes your school different?

It's a question we regularly get asked at this time of year. Legitimately asked, as parents of Year 6 students seek to support their sons and daughters in making the decision about where to go to secondary school in the window that exists between Open Evenings and a choice on a form that needs to be in at end of October.


And it's at one and same time both the easiest and most difficult question for a headteacher to answer!


It's easy because as, a Headteacher, you have nothing if you don't have passion for your school and what it stands for! But that's also the difficulty. How you objectively articulate the vibrancy, complexity and spirit of a constantly evolving community; the inspiration, joy and laughter of learning? The 'feel'.


And it's also difficult because you can only talk about what you know and understand about your school; never make a comparison with others.


In terms of an external evaluation, I think I do agree with Ofsted when they said about us that:


A values-centred ambition for students inspired by the headteacher and the governing body drives the school .


I genuinely do believe that in their behaviour, their attitudes and approach to learning our young people really  do 'live the values' we aspire to: Excellence, Courage, Determination, Inspiration, Friendship, Respect and Equality.


But I was also grateful for the perspective offered last week by one of the leaders that I have most admired across what is now nearly two decades of headship.

Sue Campbell 



Baroness Sue Campbell, founder and Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, is about to 'retire'. And she's giving a series of speeches reflecting on her own leadership journey over the years.


In the speech I was privileged to listen to she talked about how in her experience truly great organisations find a synergy between their business purpose and their moral purpose. It really resonated.


Business purpose is outcome driven. That's fine. Businesses want results. So do schools. They want young people to make brilliant progress and achieve fantastic grades at the end. Of course they do. But, as Sue pointed pointed out, you tend to find your deeper, moral purpose when you reflect on why you first wanted to do something; why you went into it.


Ask teachers, and few will say that they went into teaching to work in an exam factory. They will talk instead talk about wanting to help young people reach their potential, to excite, inspire and to motivate them and to support them with opportunities to grow into happy and well-rounded young adults who care about others and the things in life which really matter. That's what as a parent you want to do for your children as they grow up too, isn't it? Achievement in a wider - and the widest - context.


And I think that is probably where we find ourselves at Park House at the moment. We're hitting the sweet spot in combining our business and moral purpose.


Outcomes are fantastic. Best GCSE results ever. Accolades from Ministers about being amongst the very best state schools in the county for both progress over time and eliminating gaps between the attainment of different groups of students...


Nick Gibb  Letter
David Laws


But they are probably only fantastic because at the same time we are totally committed to nurturing young people who are morally secure, kind, responsible,  articulate and confident, without being arrogant.


Two examples to conclude. Both from last week.


A thousand young people spent a day walking together, having conversations, with their teachers. A healthy community, in every sense...



All of Year 7 spent a morning immersed in Chinese culture, their positive, engaged and enthusiastic response resulting in a invitation to become one of this country's 'Confucius Classrooms', receiving university-partnership funded Mandarin enrichment  lessons...



Maybe I'm getting closer to a decent answer?