2017 has turned into an amazing year.
As I explained in this blog, I have made a firm decision to commit to my role as a consultant instead of thinking about returning to Headship. I’m enjoying the freedom, the variety and the challenges that consultancy presents – and it’s been amazing to get out and around the country as the map shows.
One of the great joys of the last year has been visiting so many interesting schools including School 21, West London Free School, Michaela, Eton, Wellington College, London Academy, Canons High School, Cottenham, Turton, Priory Academy, William Ellis, Thomas Hardye…. far too many to name them all. There’s a lot of incredibly interesting stuff going on around the country. I’ve met some fabulous people and lots of very inspiring Headteachers and teachers.
I’m especially excited about the Teaching for Distinction programme we are rolling out over the next couple of years at Oldham College (as described here) and the consultancy work I’m doing with Brune Park School in Gosport and Turton School in Bolton where I have a longer-term relationship.
It’s also fabulous working with Ross McGill on our Just Great Teaching workshops and with Martin Robinson on Powerful Curriculum. If you want to make contact to discuss CPD and consultancy possibilities, here’s the link you need.
One of the highlights of my consulting work has been getting to know about primary education through the process of working with various leadership teams. This blog captures some of what I’ve learned. Primary schools are extraordinary.
The Learning Rainforest
A major highlight of the year has been writing The Learning Rainforest. Seeing it published and getting into people’s hands has been fabulous. We had a great launch party, along with my John Catt partners in crime, Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson. Their book is superb. I loved the writing process and had the pleasure of working with the talented Olivier Caviglioli and my friend Tom Andrew who read it as I went along and gave me the encouragement I needed.
There have been some fab 5-star reviews on Amazon UK and Amazon.com in the US – I’m so chuffed that people have found the book useful and thought-provoking as well as giving them some inspiration. My favourite review so far has come from my Uncle John who wrote me a wonderful letter after reading it. He’s been a teacher for 50 years so this meant a lot. He’s picked up that my favourite words are Rigour and Joy. That’s teaching!
Working for Schools Week
This opportunity came out of the blue -with thanks to Laura McInerney and Shane Mann – and it was a real treat. Working with journalist Alix Robertson was a great experience as we travelled to Doha to cover the WISE conference in November. Here is the supplement we produced: https://schoolsweek.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Wise-Supplement-digi.pdf
It was a real thrill to meet and interview Kevan Collins, Andy Hargreaves and Mike Feinberg, among others.
I wrote about two significant family trips this year. Firstly there was a trip to Auschwitz with my son which was an extraordinary experience for both of us. My reflections are captured in this post.
In December I travelled to Malaysia with my brother and sister to mark the 40th anniversary of our father Richard Sherrington’s tragic death in 1977. I’ve found that it helps to share the story, reflecting on the life-long process of grieving and the importance of ritualistic acts of remembrance. Here’s my account of the trip.
House of Commons
You can never get blasé about going to the House of Commons. I was invited by Melissa Benn to take part in a panel discussion for the Comprehensive Futures group, chaired by Clive Lewis. It was an interesting event – and always great to here Lucy Crehan talk.
I rebranded my blog and twitter handle at the start of the year – such a relief to drop the guru tag which caused a fair degree of embarrassment! I’m going to launch a major upgrade to the site in January 2018 so it looks much better and is easier to browse.
This year, I’ve written over 80 blogs, some much better and more popular than others! The run-away surprise hit was this blog: 10 low impact activities to do less of – or stop altogether. I wrote it quickly on a delayed train one Friday evening, and it had had 40K views within a few days, including 26K views on one day, breaking my previous record. The other top-reads are listed here, with the orange stripe indicating a blog written this year:
One aspect the year I’m not dwelling on in this post is the process of leaving my last school. I wrote a few blogs about it but, after the initial catharsis of writing them, I found they were either too personal or too difficult for others to read, given that my perspective is only one of many concerning what took place. I’ve set them all to ‘private’ so only I can ready them. The ‘Out of the Darkness’ post had 10K views in the space of a few days before I shut it down. Several people have asked to read it because it helped them to process the pressures they are experiencing in their situation. If you know someone who needs some support and might want a copy, contact me via my contact page and I’ll send a pdf.
Finally, as ever, twitter has played an important role in my professional life. I wrote about my Twitter Rules here. If you manage the space so that it gives you want you want and need, it is fabulous. I’m continually blown away by how kind people are in sharing, giving support, offering insight, and providing some much-needed comedy to lighten up our lives.
My most RT’d tweet was this one: It speaks for itself.
And here’s one I wrote recently capturing a sense of optimism that I feel. Despite the ups and downs, life is good. There is so much to look forward to.
Thanks to anyone who has read this far. I’m blessed to have so much support on twitter and via this blog and I’m extremely grateful for all of it.
Bring on 2018. It’s going to be brilliant!
Well done Tom. Glad to have followed your path along the way. You were probably made to be a consultant or knowledge broker as I liked to call myself, though in your case it is skills as well. If you can give us the final word on the relationship between knowledge and skills that would be icing on the cake!
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