I have been doing some thinking recently around the concept of 'excellence' and how this may be sustained in our school. I believe that this is a goal of all schools and not one principal would disagree that this is what they aim for.
So how do you sustain excellence?
I believe that it is essentially a three step process.
Firstly, you must have a clear vision of how 'excellence' is currently defined. Is it standardised test results, accreditation feedback, enrollment numbers or percentage of students entering university, for example? The definition of excellence should relate back to the mission and vision of the school, which in itself is a reflection of the school community's values.
At Bradbury, excellence for us would be around the degree to which we inspire our learners, how meaningful and authentic our inquiry is, along with all of the accompanying skills such as thinking processes, problem solving, connecting big ideas; and the degree to which we instill in our students a sense that they are part of a bigger world community which they can enhance. For me personally as well, I think a large measure is the degree to which our students love learning and how engaged our parents feel.
Along with that, you need to have an understanding of the strengths, capabilities, relationships, governance and other equally important factors that blend together to create the current environment of excellence. A large part of this comes down to gaining a clear understanding of the strengths and capabilities of the team currently in place and how each contributes to the current environment of excellence.
Lastly, you need to be keenly attuned to the overall environment in order to be aware of changes that will be required BEFORE they are on top of you!
As a school that is already successful and operating at a high level of proficiency, the NEXT to last thing we should do is implement 'change for change's sake'.
The LAST thing we should do is to think change will never be required. It is as much of a sin to be lulled into complacency by high performance and adopt a 'no change' mindset, as it is to change things for change sake.
So, in summary, what is required is a combination of the right people working within a framework of the right strategy and vision, something I believe we have in place at Bradbury.