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Mr Boddington's Blog

The Long Win

On the first day back after the February half-term holiday we held our first Trust Conference where we invited every member of the trust staff to one conference centre. Our tag line is ‘together we can’ and we sought to create a sense of unity across the trust staff as well as develop our conceptual language around a share message so invited the excellent Cath Bishop to speak. What a success. Here’s what we learnt…

We chose the time of year so that there had been time throughout the year for schools to communicate their improvement plans and for staff to be settled into their communities. Being at the halfway point of the year and returning from a break meant staff were refreshed and had the head space to consider a new approach and also have what they had done so far, endorsed (we hoped!)

We started with breakfast in a fabulous space. The generosity of our sponsors (Sandown Park Racecourse and American Community School, Cobham) meant that we could hold the conference at the stunning Sandown Park Racecourse and delegates arrived to delicious food and drink. There was about 40 minutes before we sat down to the conference during which colleagues were talking, re-connecting and enjoying interacting with each other – it was great to see some of those who work in the same roles across our different schools getting together having met through our Trust network meetings that have happened over the year.

One of the key aspects in helping create connection between the five schools was to seat colleagues in specialist areas together so that each table hosted representatives from more than one school. Thus, the admin teams, secondary subject departments, primary key stages and so on were carefully planned, so they worked with those from ELT schools beyond their own.

After a quick introduction from me about the moral purpose of our work – transforming the lives of the young people in our care – I introduced Cath, who led our staff teams on a captivating conceptual journey for the following 2 hours. It is always a risk inviting a speaker to an event with 300 delegates, to sufficiently balance aligning our culture with both challenging our assumptions and pushing our thinking forwards. Cath fulfilled this brilliantly.

As an Olympic silver medallist and experienced diplomat, Cath challenged us all about our views of success. In her book ‘The Long Win’ she explores how we move from short term defined goals (like medals or exam results) to focussing on the process that brings this about. Every person involved would have taken a different learning from her captivating and interactive presentation, but central to it were the concepts of connection, clarity and continuous learning. We had the opportunity to consider how we brought these into our workplaces and how we will define success personally and corporately over time.

What a day! Thanks to Cath’s inspirational work in the morning, the lunch back at the High School was the scene for lots of ongoing conversation and networking between colleagues. There has been great feedback so far and our challenge is to ensure our learning makes a difference over the course of the rest of the year and into the future.

Mike Boddington

February 2023