The Headteacher: Newsletter will celebrate successes

Jonathan Britton is the headteacher of Woldgate College
Jonathan Britton is the headteacher of Woldgate College

As I sit at home writing this, I am awaiting a call from a roadside recovery firm to fix the technical fault that seems to have occurred in my vehicle.

They already visited my house yesterday and, although efficient in arriving on time, the fault in the vehicle still remains. Apparently I am a member of the organisation, but to be honest, I don’t really feel any great investment of myself in this company, or pride in the service they provide. I feel slightly detached. Maybe I need nothing more - just the service.

Education should be very different, however, and must do far more than simply provide a service. We entrust the care, well-being and education of our children to a school and our involvement in our children’s education is, of course, central to that success. If the school is successful, then our children, families and the community will benefit.

A school is, therefore, at the heart of a community. For it to be successful then I believe it is important that we all should seek to support, help and guide a school to achieve its potential and to realise its goals. The joy for me as a headteacher is to lead a school that is part of that community, a school that communicates, listens, responds and, with the support of students, parents, teachers and the community, continually aims to provide the very best experiences and education for our young people.

The relationship as children grow older does, however, change from infants, to primary, secondary and then onto sixth form. Meeting our children’s teachers at the school gate, seeing other parents and being part of the community, can sometimes be easier if our children are still young. As they grow older and become more independent and move to secondary school, or the sixth form, we can sometimes find that the communication and feeling part of that community can become less easy. The danger, of course, is that we no longer feel part of that community and don’t have the relationship we once valued.

I am a firm believer that this relationship is key to the success of a school. I know from establishing a sixth form, that one of the key principles is to ensure that parents can drop in to leave messages at reception, telephone, email and take advantage of numerous opportunities including parents’ evenings and other school events, to meet and speak to staff: this is fundamental in establishing communication, creating a dialogue and helping everyone to feel part of the journey, working together towards ensuring the school is continually seeking to be the very best.

Last half-term we launched our weekly school newsletter to ensure that we could share and celebrate the many success of our young people. This term, we will introduce a monthly Q and A section, plus a teacher spotlight page. We have also been able, thanks to the Pocklington Post, to share our community news in the Spotlight pages.

I would like to thank parents for the many emails, telephone calls and letters welcoming this initiative. We will, of course, this term update and re-launch our new Facebook and Twitter feeds, again in response to parental requests. As part of this process we are also looking at the continued development of our website.

I also believe it is important for school to gather the views of its community. As part of our consultation, I would like to introduce online surveys to gather the responses of parents on specific issues and to provide weekly ‘drop-in’ slots for parents. These sessions would provide opportunities for parents to share ideas, discuss their thoughts and ask questions of the school. From September, we will also be launching a Parent Teacher Association to provide a more social forum to highlight the good work of the school and to provide support for the school, parents, the community and, most importantly, our children. I truly believe communication and partnership are key to being a successful school.

As for my car, well, the recovery service sent a specialist who in the cold wind and rain, worked for over an hour to rectify the problem, before finally helping me to get the vehicle to a local garage. He went above and beyond providing a service because he genuinely cared. His obvious pride and desire to do the best made me rethink as he drove me back from the garage. It is the communication and the relationship that are key.