There is beginning to be a national debate about the nature and function of schooling. Over the last 20 years schools have been judged by the very narrow parameters of progress measures; this has meant that it has been a difficult period to lead a school, where the nature of a its young people and the fragility of their lives means that these progress measures are not always easy to achieve. Schools serving the most vulnerable communities often get caught in a cycle of short-term change and discontinuity, as new leadership teams or academy trusts drive short term measures intended to improve progress at the expense of the mental wellbeing of staff and students. I always felt that there was a better way but often I too found myself on the familiar hamster wheel of short termism.

When I stepped into headship at Moor Park I knew that I wanted to build for the long term, retain my staff and build a culture of high expectations and unconditional care. This has sometimes felt high risk but now it seems our school has found itself in the zeitgeist of educational thought. We are now seven weeks into a term, smack bang in the middle of a pandemic, in an area of nationally high infection rates; progress measures have quickly become an irrelevance. What we have shown is that it is unconditional care and a culture of mutual trust which sustains schools through crisis. As the dust settles and the government think about how to judge the success of schools, our model of long-term sustenance will be the one that wins out.

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