When I saw the title of this post from Greg Garner ‘What If You Can’t Get the Wrong People Off the Bus’, it took me back to the beginning of my second headship.
The school was in a tough area and had been through quite a challenging period. The local authority decided to send a couple of ‘inspectors’ in to see what was what and their report gave me my agenda for the next year or so. We needed to establish routines and systems. We needed a development plan and an assessment system that would support learning across the school.
Some of the staff were really excited at the prospect of, in many ways, ‘starting again’. Others were not so sure and for some there was definitely a reluctance to what they saw as the new ‘regime’. I decided that in order for the school to move forward we needed all on board or at least as many as possible so I made my ‘On the bus’ speech. After all, if the expectations were not clear then dissent and factions could appear very easily.
It was very much a rallying cry. Our destination was clear and although it had been laid out for us we could not argue against the need for improvements across the board. I told the staff that there was a place on the bus for all BUT if you took the ticket, I would expect seat belts to be put on and on occasion, everyone to join in the community singing!
It is an analogy that I have returned to on many occasions but it is not a message of ‘Do it or Else’! Greg’s article deals with pupils and looks at how schools should look at the ‘who’ first rather than the what. I think the same approach can be taken to staff and although ‘The Bus’ is going to a particular place with everyone safely belted-up, that does not mean there is no flexibility for development.
- The destination is set but the route is not. There may be detours on the way (change of Government policy), you may need to take the motorway for speed (standards need to rise reasonably quickly) or you might try the scenic route (looking at different curricular approaches)
- You don’t have to keep to the same driver. Some may be better at the steep hills whilst others can manoeuvre the bends well (development of SLT and middle managers)
- Seats do not have to be permanent. You can try upstairs as well as downstairs, back of the bus or up with the driver (different year groups and subject areas) The seat belts are for safety not restriction!
- The community singing will have a range of songs – it’s everyone singing together that counts ( shared vision and values)
So when thinking of the paying customers on the bus, don’t wait for the next stop to move some off and get others on. Look at the clientele and see how they can enhance the quality of the journey.
Do you know where your bus is going? Are you happy to buy a ticket?