The challenge for Heads is to attract, recruit and develop staff with excellent knowledge and broad interests and then to grow them into taking their places within a school culture, which not only preaches but practices distributed leadership and which places a high value on creativity.
Schools bring their histories to us and together we turn them into traditions which reflect the Trust’s mission and values whilst preserving each school’s individuality.
We also build GST traditions so that children in every school feel part of the same family with clearly shared values. Every summer term we hold the Griffin Arts Festival (established in 2014) which celebrates identity. In the Spring Term, Founders Day (2016) centres on community and the Griffin Science Symposium (2017) on scientific enquiry. In Autumn it is the Griffin Sports Festival (2016) focused on competition and personal best.
Traditions are part of the fabric of a school community and give a sense of belonging.
A great GST school will have nothing institutional about it. Great GST schools:
- emphasise good hospitality
- provide good quality food enjoyed communally by children and staff in comfortable and companionable surroundings
- welcome all visitors and arrange for frequent speakers / artists / performers / scientists / explorers / sportspeople / campaigners for a range of causes
- grow and maintain a vibrant environment, with active staff and student involvement
- use their estate and all resources to reinforce culture and realise vision
- cultivate open and positive relationships based on equality and diversity
- keep abreast of the political and professional agenda but never let it intrude on culture
- are recognisable as GST schools in branding and standards of presentation, whilst having a strong individual identity within the family
- create their own customs and traditions which bind the community and strengthen the sense of belonging.
Recent decades have narrowed the scope of many maintained schools’ focus and provision.
The effect can be as serious as to create a climate in which children are statistics and staff operatives, combining to make or break the school’s league table position. GST’s mission is to build community, with teams of committed staff providing all children/students with the best and broadest education experience. In this way adults and children are engaged in something bigger than the delivery and receipt of a curriculum. They work in a framework of explicitly shared values so that informed choices and decisions are the drivers rather than conformity to a complex set of rules.
Great GST schools:
- emphasise leadership and service
- provide rich programmes of visits from speakers / artists / performers / scientists / explorers / sportspeople / campaigners for a range of causes
- encourage excursions, expeditions, projects, virtual links of discovery, so that children see beyond the familiar and the local
- demonstrate their commitment to equality and diversity in their staff profile and structure, their curriculum and extra-curricular provision
- spend minimal resource on intervention programmes aimed at meeting national benchmarks because they are 100% cultures
- recruit interesting/inspiring people as well as outstanding teachers and support staff build self-driven CPD with every adult a learner and a teacher
- engage in high-quality school-school improvement/development, within and beyond the Trust
- support staff in further study and research, such as GST’s masters Programme look outwards, nationally and internationally for ideas and partnerships.
Claiming to value achievement and not just attainment trips off the tongue in prospectus-speak, but growing a culture where this is an explicit reality is rare.
A school needs to be driven by multiple and connected sources of energy (proud traditions, wide horizons and high achievement) so that it makes sense to and motivates all who learn and work there.
Great GST schools:
- nurture and ‘teach’ achievement beyond the timetabled curriculum regularly
- celebrate adult and student achievement
- set appropriate value on achievements, neither overpraising nor overlooking
- know all children individually, their talents, strengths and areas for improvement
- give frequent opportunities for children to perform and demonstrate their skills and talents
- set the bar high and cast the net wide for performing arts material from Western and wider world culture
- attract staff who have achieved themselves beyond their teaching area of expertise
- support staff to continue their achievement in sport, the arts, the academic world or other arenas.