David Ross Education Trust

Broadening Horizons

War on Mediocrity - but where is the battle line drawn?

David Cameron spoke about the necessity to raise standards in education. The headline grabbing sound bite was that they are about to launch a “War on Mediocrity”.

You can understand why it is a phrase editors have grasped.

Mediocrity to me is about being average, lacking inspiration, interest and determination. It sums up everything that education should not be.

And it would be wrong and inappropriate to say that anyone started a career in education to simply bemediocre.

Irrespective of their Ofsted gradings, in every academy in our Trust there are individuals who care passionately about the children and young people who walk through their classroom door.  From the enthusiasm and self-belief of graduates and Teach First recruits to the dedication and commitment of teachers with years of experience – people care. That is not mediocre.

So what makes a mediocre school?

Standards are set by leaders. If a school or a trust is coasting, the first place I look is to the very top.

So what does strong leadership look like? As our Trust evolves and we seek to recruit individuals to strengthen our own leadership, it is a question I constantly ask.

Yes, good leadership is all the things that you would expect. Being a role model, earning respect, showing integrity are all vital components.  

But there are three ingredients that I think make an outstanding leader in education.

1. Strong moral purpose, values and beliefs that shape and drive the vision for change and improvement 

2. Models the standard as lead learner and lead teacher and is uncompromising in the belief that this should and can be achieved 

3. The desire to see their staff succeed. Wework in a world where we hear phrases like “hero-head” or “super-head”. These are not individuals who do it on their own, these are individuals who allowthose around them to succeed and achieve.

If you can’t remember why you are working in education, then mediocrity will surely follow.