Our vision - A place everyone loves to be
We were delighted to contribute to the Department for Education’s re-launched Workload Reduction Toolkit - https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/workload-reduction-toolkit
We are also very proud that our head teacher - Mr Levinson - is part of the Department for Education's Expert Advisory Group on teacher wellbeing - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/experts-to-drive-real-change-in-support-of-teachers-wellbeing
Reducing workload and focusing on the wellbeing of our staff has been a key priority at Kensington. As in any school, our children come first. However, in order for our children to come first, we need to also prioritise our own wellbeing.
We strongly believe that building a sustainable organisation means creating a place everyone loves to be. We spend a huge amount of our lives at work and everyone deserves to feel safe, secure and happy. Not only this, but ensuring our staff are properly supported allows them to be the best they can be. As a result, they provide the best possible learning experiences for our children.
Schools are incredibly demanding workplaces. Standing in front of a class and teaching 5 lessons, 5 days per week is a full-time job. That’s before you start planning, assessing, preparing resources, and the myriad of other tasks that are part and parcel of the modern teacher’s role. At Kensington, we’ve stripped away as much as we can so that staff can focus on what matters most. We also look at other ways of supporting staff: extra time out of class at key times of the year; CPD that is blocked and focused, not overwhelming; feedback systems that make a difference – no formal observations, no heavy-handed monitoring, but true partnership work, together, for the children; supportive teams; approaches that focus on what is important, not ticking a box, and much more.
Ultimately, it is about our ethos. We are all in this together to ensure the best for our children. We have worked to develop our understanding of emotions to improve our daily interactions. We have looked at what stops us from being our best and worked on these areas together, whether that’s sleep, exercise, diet, confidence, anxiety etc. Everyone is here to support each other. When something goes wrong, it is about understanding why and working together to improve it. That doesn’t mean accountability is removed: we are still exceptionally accountable. It means that we view it differently. All of this has built a culture of positivity and supportiveness. In our most recent survey, 97% (70 out of 72) of our staff answered yes to the question, ‘do you love being here?’ We are proud to be able to share this work through the Workload Reduction Toolkit and committed to continue building a place everyone loves to be.
You can watch the video here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7A69oyTaCX4
To help us deliver our vision, 'A place everyone loves to be', we have identified six strategic goals.
- Be the best we can be: Enable our children and ourselves to maximise achievement in all areas.
- All in this together: Work in partnership with each other, with The Tapscott Learning Trust, and with our wider community.
- Take care of ourselves and each other: Prioritise the wellbeing and mental health of our children and ourselves.
- Innovate: Inspire others through our innovative thinking and approaches.
- Sustain: Develop our structures and ourselves to create a sustainable organisation that can outlive our direct involvement.
- Make the difference: Find ways of measuring our impact: making sure our approaches are credible and making the difference.
It's all very well having a 'vision' and 'strategic goals' but what really matters is the day-to-day. What you see, hear and feel on a daily basis or, 'how things are done around here'. To turn the vision and strategy into reality, we have two guiding principles and have identified the behaviours that are associated to these.
Guiding Principles and associated behaviours
Guiding Principle 1: Think about what we do and why
- Build relationships that encourage others to challenge you
- Build confidence in people to challenge themselves
- Carefully consider the impact of your decisions; actively and openly seek feedback on them and be open to being challenged
- Take constructive feedback as an opportunity to self-reflect
- Have the self-confidence and personal strength to pass over feedback that isn’t constructive
- Build support networks who can help you identify which feedback is constructive
- Be pro-active in explaining the rationale behind your decisions – why have you decided to do/not do x or y?
- Have the confidence to be wrong and embrace this as a learning opportunity
- Provide time and space for yourself and your team to reflect and review
- Encourage people to take risks and celebrate them taking the risk
- Remove barriers to change: enabling everyone to develop their ideas
- Work with others to find solutions and problem solve
- Support people’s development so they are empowered to take risks through having the knowledge and understanding required to do something different
- Be visible
Guiding Principle 2: Be positive and supportive
- Model positive language and behaviours
- Develop your emotional intelligence and self-awareness
- Know and accept people and adapt your approach accordingly
- Know how to coach, how to mentor, and when to apply different approaches
- Provide positive feedback
- Be available, accessible and approachable
- Take responsibility
- Have the confidence to not always have the answer
- Offer help
- Be generous with your time and work on being an active listener
- Deal with issues promptly and professionally