Defending adult authority

It is my job to insist on the expectations and standards that define our school. As principal, there is no choice on this one. It is down to me.

For anyone in a similar role, the act of leadership is one that is felt in the pit of ones stomach. When its not right, I can’t sleep and can’t let it alone. A challenge to the school’s expectations of each and every pupil, is a challenge to us all.

Of course, not everyone agrees.

Parents have widely differing views on what is acceptable for their children. That is fine. However, when joining a community, like a school, there has to be acceptance of the common goals of the school and the right of the school to set the standards expected of everyone. This can be a hard won battle but it is vital.

For staff, especially staff who have only recently joined a school, this can equally be a real challenge. Understanding the culture of a school and adopting the standards expected of every pupil is vital to the success of the school and the staff. This is where our work becomes productive and transformative. We have the power to shape the ground upon which we stand and allow every pupil to flourish.

Of course this means challenging pupils who have a different conception of right and wrong. It means asserting our values over theirs. This is tough. But if the vision of the school is clear, this fight is worth every sleepless night. We can make a real difference to pupils’ lives.

The work of the school then becomes an unwritten contract between all the adults involved in a child’s schooling. This is the exciting part. By working together as adults, we shape the life chances of every pupil. We open doors for them that might otherwise remain closed.

It is the work with the adults involved in education that creates the space for pupils to transform themselves and become something they never dreamt possible. It is the insistence on hard work and discipline in studying subjects in the classroom that will allow them to reach their own goals whatever they maybe. The more we celebrate the teacher as an authority in the classroom, the one making the subject come to life and demanding the attention of the pupils to succeed, the more the pupils will be set free.

It is my job to make sure all the adults in the school work together to achieve this and insist that the pupils strive to reach the highest possible expectations in everything we do.


David Perks

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