From day one I set about freeing the students from the strictures of a failed system. That failed system was the 1950s model which had so utterly failed me and my fellow students; a system that enabled a chosen elite to prosper at the expense of the rest; an education system that was one great mind-destroying memory test drummed in through numbing repetition and tedious copying and memorising of facts.
Education was too important to be at the beck and call of politicians. We had to wrest it back from them and instil it with life and vitality.
Back in college me and my best friend Pete Smith, who later went on to found ‘Wild Science’, were of the same opinion – that the education system was boring and unfair; it reduced people and subjects down to less than what they were and needed overhauling. Pete dropped out to do it – I dropped in. I wanted to see if the madmen could successfully take over the institution.
The first step was to transform the philosophy into a working ethos that could begin to permeate the whole school. I had introduced this as a senior teacher and lowly member of the senior team fourteen years before I became a Head. The result was a stated ethos discussed and shared with all staff and students which took the form of a mission statement:
A friendly, open caring and successful school
A school offering equal opportunity for all
A school which values the complete development of all students and staff
A school committed to the continual raising of standards
This was thrashed out through repeated meetings with lots of healthy argument. As far as I was concerned it had to stem from my philosophy. That’s what I fought for. As long as the caring, fairness and development was in there they could have their standards. For me the standards would come out of the process. If our students felt valued, respected and cared for and experienced lessons that were fun and thought provoking the results would follow. We did not have to focus on teaching and learning; we had to focus on excitement and challenge. If students were engaged and excited by education learning would take place.
In the UK:
In the USA: