Upper Shirley High

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“This is a good school for the creative variety of subjects.” Year 6 parent

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Leading the charge

7 October 2016

At this point every year, I invite our middle leaders into my office to discuss their summer GCSE results and I’m compelled to post a blog for two reasons:

1. I don’t Tweet (Kim Kardashian et al rest easy for now).
2. The work of the middle leadership at USH is something to behold.

We are blessed with amazing middle leaders at USH; those colleagues who occupy roles such as Subject and Year Leads and who drive improvement with key teams across the school. More than translating our vision into reality, they shape our vision and they embody our values; successfully managing the pressures of the job from all angles. When they each described their Year 11 results to the senior team, I was struck by their insight, their honesty and their ambition for their students. Their performance data proves these qualities are real…no leadership waffle, no rhetoric, no flannel..genuine understanding about what makes the difference to children.

Notably, this year we had 10 subjects reporting on significant numbers achieving 5 levels of progress, data which places achievement in the top 10% of schools nationally.  Our middle leaders were clear about how they’d achieved this; their technical knowledge and skills coupled with something more difficult to measure but nonetheless as critical to success.*

Time flies when a leader gets talking about the right things and I found that the 2 hour meetings this term have gone by in a flash. Our leaders’ depth of explanation and analysis is totally absorbing; this is the business of schools and makes the difference.

As I sat listening, I became aware of two things… just how lucky USH is to have these experts here and what good company they are; knowing their jobs so well and committing whole-heartedly.

When the meetings are over I write to them with thanks and some observations. It’s time for me to express something more personnel about their contributions. Headteachers have letter writing as a key part of our role; it’s a tradition and an honourable one. I write on paper…..not that I’ve got anything against E mail but do you remember the last time you got a paper letter that wasn’t a bill?  You either did because it was special or you didn’t because it was so long ago. When did it stop being anything inbetween?

Long live letters.

Next year schools report using numbers (9-1) as well as letters (A*-G ) and it’s our middle leaders who are leading the charge; adapting and overcoming the challenges to the new assessments.  It’s more important than ever that during imposed change USH remains steadfast, unfaltering and positive about its core purpose; teaching children, in the broadest sense. So thank you middle leaders, for your energy, your dedication and your spirit of optimism. Here’s to another great year together.

*details of which are kept strictly within these walls. 



“It was a real pleasure to be in your school yesterday. The staff were incredibly welcoming and very reflective and responsive during feedback - well done to you all.” Junior School Headteacher, Jefferys Education Trust