A good school should be able to adapt to any situation. Promoting children's independence, their leadership skills and creating groups which develop and facilitate teamwork are key attributes which should be encouraged in the classroom. This weekend, Andy Buck took part in a conference organised by the British Council School as part of the activities at the 5th British Education Exhibition in Madrid and Barcelona.
Buck is an expert in school leadership and responsible for initiatives such as Leadership Matters, an organisation with the goal of improving students' academic results by promoting the position of educational leader at all levels, through coaching programmes, training and on-line tools. He gave a talk at the British Council School in which he highlighted the key attributes of a good leader, speaking about how these are initially developed in the classroom. “When schools provide leadership opportunities for children and promote these in the classroom using training roles, we are encouraging those children to be good future leaders”he said. In this regard, he emphasised the key characteristics of a good leader such as the importance of creating and developing personal relationships and the ability to create strong teamworking groups.
Buck has worked for organisations like the Teacher Training Agency, the National College for School Leadership and Partnerships for Schools. He stressed the values which a good educational leader should have. Amongst these: a clear working strategy, well planned and structured, because “we need to understand clearly what we want to achieve and then work towards it”; the ability to create and develop good teamworking relationships and flexibility in order to adapt to any situation. “A goood School should be able to adapt to each new situation and know how to react when this changes. We have to watch everything around us, including all the finer details, because the majority view, is not always the correct view”, he explained.
Buck explained the key attributes which make a good School. Amongst these, the importance of teacher recruitment policies and the importance of relationships between teachers, students and families.
“In a good School, everybody knows what is going on, because there is a direct relationship between all the stakeholders in the education project”; the School must be very clear about what it wants to achieve and what its values are, and these must be open and transparent.”People have to be aware of what is going on around them, be able to share learnings and be alert to new opportunities.
Buck suggests that new educational models should promote these skills “offering students the opportunity to lead new projects with their classmates or in other extra-curricular activities”. It is fundamental to provide an education which “will inspire them and which will provide them with a thirst for learning and improvement throughout their lives. Classroom leadership starts by motivating children, listening to their aspirations and promoting their independence”and children should be able to trust their teachers, because they “have skills and experience, but also because they are honest, have integrity and are able solve problems, whatever the situation.”
“The British school system offers Schools many opportunities because it provides them with more autonomy and allows them to decide what happens in their institutions, and this motivates both the people that work there and also the students. This collaborative and global approach understands education holistically, in a way which involves everyone”, he explained.
On her part, Gillian Flaxman, Headmistress at the British Council School, explained some of the key points around British methodology, highlighting that “Facilitating children's independence and helping them to believe in themselves and in their our abilities, is most important. Our motto is “be as good as you can be”and this will to overcome, is what makes them want to keep on learning and developing once their schooldays are over.