Winter term and the 400m
Winter term and the 400m

Winter term and the 400m

The winter term is much like a 400m race. It is exceedingly difficult to make up for a poor start (though not an unforgiving as the 100m). There is the need to maintain and control your speed. Teachers can’t afford to rely on the anaerobic system alone, you can not power your way through til mid December without recompense. Successful sprinters adhere to a technical model, efficiency is key. In teaching, the debate on style, be it evidence informed, traditional, progressive, continues unabated. You will observe a greater variation of styles in the classroom than on the track, that said, efficiency and form remains a key component. 400m sprinters, like teachers, need to be aware of their competitors / students and respond to them, however not be too distracted from the end of goal. The acute agony and exhaustion that kicks in once the anaerobic system is overwhelmed and we round the bend, (1st week in December) is all too familiar to the seasoned sprinter and teacherAt this point it is an absolute mind over matter, every fibre of our bodies are telling us to slow down (maybe that only applies to the sprinters). 

On reaching the final two days of term, it was a our school culture that kept me going. A culture and collective endeavour, that for the first time in my short tenure as Head teachers, out-shone the many individual and valued contributions of staff. As teachers, here we have the upper hand on the sprinter… we are part of a team. Together, we crossed the finish line.

So, to a question I have asked, and been asked over and over again – how do you know? How do I know that our collective culture has evolved?

How do I know?

I have to admit, I was not bothered either way by stakeholder surveys.We run three surveys termly, staff, pupils and parents. I saw benefit in their moment-in-time feedback however felt it was more an exercise in engagement than purposeful, insightful intelligence gathering. I was wrong. Stakeholder surveys offer real insight and opportunity especially over time.

Insight in what the respondents report and that they overlook. Insights into misconceptions. Insight over a series of surveys and the direction in which school is travelling on each questions was perhaps  most useful. Of course, that takes a years investment to build. A new insight for me personally and professional has been NPS scores.

Working with the Trustees at Hindhead Campus I have been introduced to NPS scores. Net Promoter or Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a simple but powerful measure of client satisfaction, an indication of the growth potential. The Net Promoter Score is calculated based on responses to a single question: How likely would you be to recommend the school to close friend or relative? A question that we follow up with, How could the school increase your score above by 1?

NPS +25 5 6 7 8 9 10 (blank) Grand Total
How likely would you be to recommend the school to another teacher? 10.7% 7.1% 7.1% 32.1% 17.9% 25.0% 0.0% 100.00%

25 is strong score in its own right, above the education and training industry benchmarks and the organisations NPS of +8. That said, here at Hindhead Campus we are on the cusp of something special, with 32% of staff and median score, scoring 8. If we re-surveyed today, after the last two days fantastic days of term, I am confident we would see a shift.

  NPS +51 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (blank) Grand Total
How likely would you be to recommend the school to close friend or relative? 1.3% 3.9% 1.3% 3.9% 2.6% 25.0% 23.7% 38.2% 0.0% 100%
We are aware of the justified reasons for some of the lower scores from parents and our opportunity here is to eradicate the justified concerns raised.
Opportunity to show you listen, opportunities to act.Opportunities to investigate new initiatives. Opportunities to report and lead upwards. Opportunities to address misconceptions.

For the first time, I formally responded to all stakeholders. To staff as a group via staff briefing. To parents as groups (Years 3-6, Years 7-8 and Years 9-13), summarising the survey findings and noting comments. This communication itself was met with positive responses from parents thanking the school for listening. To students via assembly and forwarding on the report to the Student Leadership Team.

Peer-to-peer (staff stars) recognition board has more than trebled the number of nominations, with fewer employed staff.

Staff collective spirit has never been stronger. The surprise staff-briefing performance of the 12 Days of Christmas (whack-a-mole style) warmed me to my core. It was brilliant. Thank you. The first staff quiz was equally brilliant.

Parent attendance at our Starry Night performances (talent show) more than doubled.

Our first student led Winter Market was a real success.

More Hindhead Campus staff are being recognised nationally.

Biggest Lesson Learnt

I have tried to maintain a leadership stance of devolved responsibility and have consistently communicated the stance “If it doesn’t put a staff member or student at risk and it doesn’t carry a financial cost, then make a decision.” In my reflections, this has been one of the most important leadership lessons I have benefitted from this term.

Smaller lessons learnt

Never under estimate the impact on a warm welcome in the mornings. Our premises manager welcomes students ever morning and he received an absolutely rapturous applause from students in our closing Value assembly.

It is important to report an absence of an aspect of school life, or at least the low occurrence of an aspect of school life – to keep it in sharp focus. This term we have only two  reports of anti-social behaviour (fracturing of friendship groups)

A reminder, rather than a lesson learnt. Sometimes, our best intentions fall short. Take on board the responsibility to address the shortfall.

New solutions, sometimes generate different challenges.

Internal, even temporary, promotions mean a lot to staff and have great benefit to the organisation.


To our staff, again, thank you for your resourcefulness, adaptability and commitment to the school.

With my hands on my knees, I am recovering my breath and heading for an ice-bath. Off to search for more Snowy ideas (our Elf on the Shelf). See you in January.

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