Thoughts Worth Sharing – Headteacher Talk

Michael Pennington
Headteacher of The Blue Coat School.
One thing I wished I had learned at school:
I always say I was one of life’s slow starters and I am very grateful for the education I got at a comprehensive school in St Helens. I learnt of my talents in mathematics and science very quickly and did well in those areas. Only later in life have I realised how to take my skills and attributes from one area and apply them to bring more success elsewhere. It is this approach that has also taught me how to enjoy things I thought I did not like by approaching them in the way I do.
The book I haven’t read that I must:
To answer this question, I feel I should first explain my reading habits! I see books as similar to many other things in life; films, sport, music, etc. One cannot simply say they don’t like them as a whole and therefore equally, it is OK to find more enjoyment and fulfilment in a particular genre than others. Consequently, I must confess I struggle with a novel but get a great deal out of biographies of real people. Reading about the real life struggles and philanthropy of Sir Alex Ferguson and Bear Grylls challenge me to question what I can do to improve myself for the good of others. So when I find some time, next on my list is Lord Alan Sugar’s ‘What you see is what you get’. I am particularly interested in learning about the factors that influenced his social mobility.
The education story that has caught my eye:
Nationally, over recent years, the gap between the outcomes of disadvantaged children and others has not closed. While in some places it has narrowed or even diminished, elsewhere it has widened to a degree never seen before. And yet the education sector has targeted this gap with enormous funding? I get very exercised about inequality and worry about this approach which has skewed school’s attention to what they can do with double and sometimes triple funding. I know from my recent experience as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors that very often, the strategies that have the most impact are simply centred on good attention from good teachers with high expectations. I am quite convinced that sometimes we can make a problem seem too complicated.

What I am most proud of about our school:
The Blue Coat School is a selective academy that takes children from all backgrounds from Liverpool and the surrounding area. Students of many different heritages, faiths and economic backgrounds all do equally well not just because of the support they get from their teachers, but also from the support and care they offer each other. At Blue Coat, it’s not just OK to be different, it’s right to be different. Our student’s recognition of each other’s backgrounds, skills, qualities, interests and individuality contributes massively to the supportive community we strive for. In this way, and many others at Blue Coat, we are always proud that the students really do challenge us to think about how we can use their strengths to develop them even further. each and every young person.

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