In an age where internet safety is a moveable feast, I have been fiercely protective of the school where I teach. Today is a little different. It is the end of an era.
Littleover Community School Headteacher, David Nichols, is retiring today. He touches down by helicopter some time mid morning and no doubt the Facebook page pleading with him not to leave will be full of comments and memories from today. He is a truly remarkable man, Littleover a truly remarkable school – I do not know of many others who should have given me the opportunity to teach whilst working on Zero-credit. For those who can be bothered to trawl through Ofsted reports and results, achievement is apparent in the resolute refusal to compromise on quality or to kowtow to the latest qualification to fix results. Graded outstanding, Littleover Community School is on every level the real deal and Michael Gove would do well to recognise this, for David's successor, Ash Venkatesh will undoubtedly continue Littleover's formidable tradition.
Headteachers make all the difference to a school, enabling or disabling effective teachers to work. There are very few inadequate teachers in my experience, no matter what BBC Panorama or Chris Woodhead says. There is, however, a prolific tendency for government to intervene in an attempt to quantify that which surpasses all measure – the desire and capacity of an individual to change lives for the better – resulting in many who bow to such pressures. For this reason I feel a little guilty to be so enthused about leaving the profession, when there is so much outstanding work which goes unrecognised or unrewarded. I should like to give thanks to those who have developed and nurtured my practice, with their vigilence and constistent presence in and around school and my classroom: Bernadette Przybek, Headteacher at King's Heath Boys School; Ingrid Abrahams, Deputy Headteacher at Great Barr School; Tony Downey, Headteacher at Robert Sutton Catholic School and Denise Gould, Assistant Headteacher at Abbot Beyne School. From these, David and Ash, I have learned immeasurably. Thank you.