Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

Excellence as Standard

Michael Connolly, Headmaster of Cranmore School, explores the requirements of successful teachers and the model of Excellence as Standard in schools.
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The Times recently published a short item concerning an advert which had been placed for a Nanny. The reason it had caught the attention of the national press was because the role had very specific requirements in return for a salary of £100,000: a degree in child psychology, training in self-defence and the confidence to do the school run in a Porsche as well as having a minimum of 15 years’ experience.

No doubt the exceptional salary was eye-catching to many potential candidates. However, it is worth noting that the parents had clearly decided that a degree in child psychology was essential for anyone who would be deemed fit to look after their children. It is a moot point whether or not such a qualification would guarantee that this would ensure a good match. One might argue that there are many factors which might be equally important, not least the personality of the successful candidate who would be required to establish a rapport with the children under their care.

What about the requirements to become a successful teacher? I am sure they would all love the opportunity to drive a Porsche, but what skills and qualities really makes them effective in their role? For many years the only requirement was to hold a degree or diploma with evidence of some formal training in teaching too. However, central government felt there was a real need to be explicit on what is required to be an effective teacher and so created a lengthy litany of objectives which must be met. Almost all of them seem sensible at face value, but one wonders how far they have been established within the profession. For example, one can hardly argue with: “set goals that stretch and challenge pupils of all backgrounds, abilities and dispositions.” Yet, when one reads the various inspection reports, this element is often cited as a reason for failure because schools have not been sufficiently ambitious in this aspect. Again, it seems reasonable that teachers should keep up to date by: “demonstrating a critical understanding of developments in the subject and curriculum areas, and promote the value of scholarship.”
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I have been a headmaster for over twenty years and in that time I have interviewed countless applicants for teaching positions. Inevitably I have met some who, in my view, are ill-equipped for the role. I am always disappointed to be confronted with those who may have graduated in a subject many years ago and it is painfully obvious that they have done little or nothing by way of study ever since.

Roy Blatchford, a leading educationalist, has proposed a model of Excellence as Standard for schools. In such a school he suggests that: “The particular skills and knowledge required of a teacher are non-negotiable; so are the attitudes, dispositions and high service standards.” This certainly chimes with my belief that teaching is a real vocation and is done best by those who never lose sight of this fundamental principle. The top schools maintain high expectations for their pupils and are committed to providing the resources and expertise to fulfil this commitment. Blatchford adds that those teaching in such a school: “care, risk, dream and expect more than others think is possible.”

At Cranmore School we subscribe to this vision. Our latest full inspection report described us as excellent in every single category. Of course, the challenge is to perform at that high standard day after day. For parents who are in the process of choosing a school for their child, I would encourage them to take care to find out as much as possible about each school and hopefully they will find one that truly offers ‘Excellence as Standard’.
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essence info
With an impressive academic record, underpinned by strong pastoral care, Cranmore School is a community where each individual matters and pupils develop a long lasting love for learning.  Children study the standard subjects as well as a stimulating curriculum which includes French, Mandarin, Spanish, Latin, Greek and a wide selection of extracurricular activities. The excellent facilities include a golf course, swimming pool, fitness suite and Forest School.
Telephone: 01483 280340

"The particular skills and knowledge required of a teacher are non-negotiable; so are the attitudes, dispositions and high service standards."
Roy Blatchford, educationalist