It’s all about the “injury time”!


As we take a moment to “stop and breath” at the start of half term it strikes me that it is the small things that matter most in school life and leadership. What do we do when nobody else is looking? Do we have the commitment, energy and integrity to do all the small, often unglamorous, things that can make all the difference to the culture and success of our schools?

A key “marginal gain” is how we approach the start and end of each term or school break. In some schools there is gradual build up to top speed and a “winding down” as they approach any break – sometimes indicated by the pace, direction or purpose of learning that you may see going on. If you’re not sure what I’m on about have a wander around your school the week before the Christmas break and see if you can spot quizzes, videos, word searches and other such time-fillers. By definition if this is part of school life you are “winding down”.

One distinctive and important aspect of the culture we look to set is that every minute is precious, we start and finish strong. An example of this was the sixth form review we had last week that was graded as “outstanding”. It shows that even after the focus and exceptional efforts of the term people had the commitment to show what we are all about and I really respect and cherish this. It also means we get to the half term break ready to relax and recharge for the next stage. I hope everyone really does this too!

A simplistic analogy would be look at some of the most successful teams and individuals in sport. It’s not about the commitment at the start but really about the strength of the finish and consistency of performance. Football fans will be well versed in this thinking about how the best teams dig out a result deep into injury time – sometimes even winning the league in the last game of the season in this “twilight zone”. Man City winning the Premier League in 2012 ironically in “Fergie Time” having scored two goals in the 5 minutes of injury time – it would have seemed impossible but they had to believe it could be done.

In short I think this is what makes truly great schools… if you manage to make every moment count you will finish each day, term and year knowing that you have never missed an opportunity to do what’s best for the students in our care. If we can stop, breath and rest at this time we can truly know, in the words of Seb Coe at London 2012, that we “have done it right”.

Thanks to everyone at St. Paul’s for a great half-term. You made a real difference each and every moment deep into “injury time”! For this I salute and thank you.


Journeying to Great: 2. The Purple One

Part 2 of Stephen’s reflections @leadinglearner – challenge is all about empowering others and sticking to our core purpose and vision. Communicate it in small ways everyday.


I’ve just invested £14 in an attempt to make a crucial point during our next INSET (In-Service Training) Day. 

Quality Street - Purple One

We are a good school but we are not yet great.  We want to be and intend to be.  My role is to help discern what we keep for the next stage of our journey, what we abandon and what we tweak.  The first part of the “journey” can be found in the previous post, “Journeying to Great: 1. The St. Paulsing Way”.

Having visited two great schools in the last fortnight I’m wondering whether it’s all about the Purple One.   To make sense of this I need to share two different conversations that have come together (in my head at least) and will hopefully help us on our journey.

Freedom, Responsibility & Interdependence

The first great school I visited was St. Paul’s Catholic College, in Burgess Hill.  I was…

View original post 1,091 more words

Journeying to Great: 1. The St. Paulsing Way

Great to have Steven @leadinglearner with us. Thanks for the insightful reflections and write up. Here’s to the next chapter!


A bit like Schwarzenegger & Devito in the film Twins, St. Paul’s Catholic College and St. Mary’s Catholic College may not look like an automatic pairing but Rob Carter (@robcarter2012) and myself were twinned as part of the SSAT (The Schools Network) Vision 2040 Group.  Our mission is to establish a clear understanding of the difference between the national curriculum and the framework it provides to the school curriculum, with its unique interpretation in our own setting and context.

Twins - Schwarzenegger & DeVito

Whilst the schools may seem different on first appearances the DNA running through them is pretty much identical.  People in faith schools like to talk about journeys, we are a Pilgrim people – this is about journeying to become great schools, a journey and aspiration we all share as schools and teachers across England and beyond.

Having visited St. Paul’s Catholic College, I realise they are further down…

View original post 1,323 more words