A Community of Purpose: Working in collaboration to create an inclusive future for all Surrey Schools
Building on the work we started with our Leadership Summit in February, we invited Heads from across Surrey to join the conversation about how we move forward; to help us identify our priorities, our obstacles, and our opportunities as a school-led system.
Across the four engagement sessions we welcomed 100 school leaders from all phases reflecting the incredible variety of education settings we have in Surrey; joining us remotely from classrooms, home offices, and in some cases even whilst on playground duty!
A Renewed, Shared Vision
Now that we have returned to the classroom, we know that many of the challenges and issues our school system faced before the pandemic remain, but we recognise the pandemic has also been a disruptive catalyst that can shape our collective renewal.
We kicked off our sessions with asking our Heads to consider the question: “If we are truly successful at addressing our challenges, what will our school system look like in 2023?” Interestingly, whilst there was a range of answers, the majority of the responses highlighted three key ongoing themes:
Collaboration – Whether as part of a partnership, a community, or simply as part of Surrey’s ‘family’ of schools, a system that strives for purposeful collaboration over competition is at the heart of our vision for the future.
Inclusion – A system that understands and serves all of its learners, its staff and its communities equally, with clear values and moral purpose at its core.
Prioritising what matters most – High quality learning, shared excellent practice, and support for the wellbeing of everyone in the school system. As one of our participants put it; “doing less better”.
Achieving our vision – What are our barriers and opportunities?
After this initial discussion we then considered in smaller groups the barriers and opportunities for our school system in achieving this vision. These conversations reflected the wide breadth of challenges face by individual settings and brought together some common concerns.
Key themes that emerged were:
It was clear that none of these barriers will have simple, silver-bullet solutions; but our participants could see ways in which we could mitigate these concerns as a school system by ‘looking for the diamonds’.
The difficult circumstances of the last year led to a renewed sense of collaboration and created pathways between Surrey schools to work together and share best practice through online networks and events. Increased, focused collaboration, was a key priority for a great number of school leaders.
The shake-up of our system also provides the opportunity to identify and embed values that have come to light over the last year and a half: inclusivity, wellbeing, and support.
What are our Covid Keeps?
After feeding back to the group, participants returned to break out rooms to discuss some of the key challenges and some key takeaways from our pandemic learning that could apply to them: what could we lose, what did we want to keep, and what did we want to introduce, both as schools and in partnership? These are just a few of the answers.
Your Voice – SAfE’s Promise: Delivering on our Surrey Vision
SAfE is committed to its role as a conduit for collaboration in Surrey, creating opportunities for all our schools to connect and thrive. The engagement workshops were a great way to listen to your views and explore how we can support the development of an even stronger Surrey education system. We are using your thoughts and views to realign our vision and priorities for the next few years.
In the short term we will use your feedback to support our thinking about our Professional Learning Programme for next year. We will ensure that we keep a ‘Thread of Inclusion’ underpinning all our work. We will keep the majority of our engagement on-line to support headteachers and teachers well-being and promote ease of collaboration. In addition, we are planning to set up some new ‘Learning Hubs’ to support collaborative thinking, planning and action.
Thank you to everyone who participated in these events. We want to keep the conversations going – by working together we will build back stronger. We look forward to keeping you updated and really interested in your thoughts.