Time to shout out our successes

2nd June 2000 at 01:00
AM I alone in feeling that we have all lost sight of reality so that we see each and every glass half empty; that our obsession with failure has clouded our judgment so that we can't see the wood for the trees?

Am I alone in feeling that there must be a better way?

I have believed all my working life that the problem isn't the people, it's the systems, frameworks and structures. I am told that 85 per cent of all personnel problems are down to the systems, not the people. So why do we constantly focus on people's failings and fail to recognise their extraordinary potential?

Here in York, we have been working for the past four years on a campaign to celebrate what we do. I am fortunate, I work with a wonderful team of people; talented advisers, officers and other staff supporting good headteachers, amazingly talented teachers and support staff and hard-working and very effective governors. I expect it is the same where you are.

We tend to blame all our problems on schools, on teachers and their inability to deliver the goods. Yet children only go to school for 15 per cent of the time - 85per cent of the time they are someone else's responsibility.

Our national curriculum is 85 per cent knowledge and understanding and only 15 per cent skills and attitudes. Yet in our adult lives 85 per cent is concerned with skills and attitudes. And LEAs: most people simply do not understand what they do!

Here in York we are doing a good job, at least I think that's what the Office for Standards in Education said, though no-one, least of all OFSTED, seems to acknowledge it.

Why is it that a failing school or a failing LEA is big news while a successful school or, God forbid, a successful LEA is almost no news at all. Why is it that success isn't cool; why are we so embarrassed by it, why don't we shout it from the rooftops?

Why is it that time and again we seem to get so many things wrong in our search for sensible and realistic solutions?

We all want to build a culture of success and high achievement for all. A world-class education system with good teachers, good schools and good LEAs.

Chris Edwards

Deputy director educational services

York City Council


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