First, I must apologise that I have been somewhat neglectful of my Blog in recent weeks. As my PA will testify, “Write Blog post” has been an ever-present phrase on my daily “to do” lists, but (until the Bank Holiday weekend) has never made it to the top.
Regular readers will know from this, and “JT News” how proud I am to be a member of the John Taylor community, and this pride was never greater than in the last few weeks, which saw us receive three accolades for our work from three very influential sources. First, both chronologically and in order of prominence, was our Ofsted inspection judgement. The report, which is downloadable via our website, was a validation of the work that we have all undertaken over months and years. The students, staff, and governors showed the inspection team what John Taylor was about – and the inspection team embraced it all: the lessons, the lunchtime activities, the meetings with students, staff, governors, the work scrutiny, and even “Strictly Come Dancing” for Sport Relief! To receive “outstanding” in all categories was wonderful, and important for our work as a National Teaching School. The inspection also gave us areas for development that will feature in our forthcoming School Improvement Plan for 2014/15. After all, “outstanding” certainly doesn’t mean perfect – and we’ve work still to do!
Only a matter of a few days after the inspection, John Taylor received a letter from the SSAT (formerly the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust) informing us that we had been included again in their list of high performing schools. To qualify, schools must be non-selective and have students “best 8” GCSE results in the top 20% of state schools. Although we regularly receive this recognition, it is always important for me that we do. With changing criteria for inclusion in the status each year, it demonstrates that we maintain high standards of academic performance.
Less than a week after that, we were informed by the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) that we had been successful in our application to be a lead school for Initial Teacher Training (ITT), Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and academy conversion and management. This means that the National College will signpost other schools towards us for support and guidance in these areas, and we may be able to participate in a range of opportunities and pilots relating to these areas.
So, it’s been a great month for recognition of our work. Yet, we are always acutely aware of two things: First, that we work for the students, their families, and wider communities. Recognition from other parties, whilst gratifying and important, is less valued than the appreciation of the children and parents of the John Taylor community. Second, all of the accolades come from our achievements with those students – curricular, cross-curricular, and extra-curricular. These achievements are built by skill, effort, and determination over months and years by a terrific team who pull together.
That’s at the heart of what we do.
Thanks, as always, for reading.