I’m a relative unknown to the Twitterati, and hardly a frequent flyer to the Blogsphere.  However, it doesn’t escape even me that this is the time when we see a huge number of end of year, end of term, blogs and messages.  With shades of Michelle Obama’s “imposter syndrome”, I’m always more than a little apprehensive that an end of term message of good will can very easily be perceived as a rather regal “Christmas message to The Commonwealth”.  To avoid such issues, I don’t normally leave it quite so late in the term to update my CEO’s Blog.  This year, however, the scale of activities that have been going on and the “to do” list being even more stubborn in its immovability than in most previous years means I’ve left it late. 

Again attempting to avoid another seasonal favourite – the “Review of the Year” – I’ll merely state that it’s been a hugely positive 2018 from my perspective as our Trust has welcomed great new schools into its family, achieved considerable successes for its communities and seen our amazing children and adults achieve beyond their own high expectations. We can look forward to 2019 with a great deal of positivity and promise.

Much of this success is attributable in my view to the culture that pervades our schools, their communities and out Trust.  In our Strategic Plan, we have attempted to articulate our key attributes – collectively and individually – that drive us to be successful:

Our commitment to ensure learning is at the heart of all we do: Keeping “the main thing, the main thing” – prioritising our people, time, energy and funding to the improvement of the educational experience – both formal and informal – we provide.

A passion for excellence: Only comparing ourselves with the best.  When finding it, seeking to match and then surpass it.

Restlessness and curiosity: Looking for opportunity to be involved and to learn from new experiences.

Courage to innovate: Leading change – in teaching and learning, curriculum development, organisational structures.

Tenacity and resilience: Holding to our mission in times of turbulence, and remaining resolute until we achieve what we set out to do.

Collegiality: Listening to others, sharing with others, learning from others.

I’m sure you’ll agree that these are both worthy and aspirational.  However, these attributes are articulated in the words and actions of so many of our adults and children every day, every term, every year.  Peter Drucker, the “father of modern management” once famously stated that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Having worked in a number of different organisations, in different sectors, with very differing cultures, I can only agree with him – as I’ve seen poorly-conceived strategies and plans sail to new lands through the efforts of individuals and teams to make them work, and conversely I’ve witnessed highly-polished strategies crash on the rocks of disappointment through a deficit of cultural capital.

To err is human, as we all know.  There are times when we all fall short of these ambitious attributes.  But our achievements far outweigh our shortcomings as a community.  At this time, it’s only fitting to thank all those in JTMAT who live and work by these aspirations, and the positive impact that they have on all those around them, improving lives – and the world.  Seeing so many of our children and staff working together towards a single and shared goal – the Christmas Concert hosted by John Taylor Free School, performed by the choirs of all nine of our primary phase schools – is an example of this spirit:

It was a lovely occasion, and one which we will all remember with fondness for a long time.

Looking forward, our first day of the new term sees us gather together for our first ever MAT-wide Training Day.  It promises to be hugely exciting and beneficial.  The invited speakers are exceptional in their fields, the practitioners delivering sessions from our own schools are great at what they do and generous to share their work, and we participating are receptive to new ideas and ways of working. 

We anticipate the impact of the event to continue long after the spike of enthusiasm typically felt by attendees on “courses” has diminished.  This is about continual and continuous mutual and self-improvement – twelve schools and some wider partners working together to a shared end of staff development and improved provision for our communities.  I plan to report on this in my January Blog.

Thank you for reading, and have a great Christmas and New Year.