The Power Of Speech!
If truth be told, I have always rather enjoyed making speeches. Whilst some senior staff regard assemblies as the most daunting part of their role, standing up in front of 1300 people to hold forth on a subject of my choice strikes me as something of a privilege and a treat. It may well be that audiences may not see this in the same way, but I understand that blogs are meant to be the opportunity to reveal personal opinions!
For someone who enjoys public speaking, next week should therefore be a real treat for me. I have been invited to speak at a conference in London on Tuesday to around 200 head teachers about our experience of the new OFSTED Framework, under which we were inspected so successfully last term, and the two following days present the annual opportunity to deliver eight speeches to parents considering Fulston Manor for their children next year. To be more accurate, the opportunity to deliver the same speech 8 times rather than eight different speeches, which can be a little wearing for those staff in the Millennium Hall who have to sit through all of them.
I am currently working on both speeches and, as always, the major challenge is not what to put in but what to leave out. My pride in Fulston Manor is so intense that, once started, it can be difficult to slow me down, let alone bring me to a halt. The difficulty I find is to distil the things that make this place so special, that enabled us to achieve outstanding judgements in all aspects of our OFSTED judgements and that continue to impel us forward. I can reel off all the statistics, the examination successes, the university places gained, the progress made but, impressive as they are, somehow none of these capture the essence of the school.
Although yet to complete either presentation, I know that at the core of it all is my belief that success arises from the culture of a school, from the happiness of students and staff. Success is about changing children’s lives, modelling and acting out the civilised values and codes by which we would like everybody to live. It’s about joy and astonishment and excitement and risk and enterprise and adventure. Of course qualifications are important in improving children’s life chances but they should grow naturally from everything else that is occurring. All I need to do now is to get that into a pair of speeches in a way that not only convinces others but also demonstrates that this is the engine which powers Fulston Manor and makes it the school that it is.