During my training year (2009/10 for the historian’s amongst you) I had an amazing mentor called Kevin. He was coming to the end of his career and was very much ‘old school’, he infamously gave a child who forgot a piece of homework around the year 2000 2000 lines as punishment. For me he kept the wolves from the door, I met him every day after school and he would go to battle for me, whether with a student, a parent or another member of staff. After a while I realised I only went to Kevin with problems and never solutions and I knew this was not sustainable, I needed to cut the proverbial apron strings. When I first started training I could barely see the problem, let alone own it and certainly was never able to do anything effective about it.
A large part of this was down to my inexperience but also because the school culture was not set-up for this, I knew my place and that was at the bottom of the food-chain. I knew if I wanted to make a successful career in education I would have to take more ownership of situations, and to progress I had to start finding solutions to problems and even try to be proactive before they arose. When I started imagining the school I wanted King’s Bolton to be, I knew that the phrase ‘See it, Own it, Do it’ had to be central to our way of life. I knew that if we wanted to create a truly exceptional education for our students everyone had a part to play and it could not just come from a few senior voices. I never wanted any member of staff, whichever role they serve and however experienced they might be to feel as powerless as I used to feel.
However, there is a small caveat to all of this. ‘SOD’ can go too far, and there are things outside your remit where actually passing the issue on is the more effective choice. Take two examples – firstly if a pipe broke in one of the toilets I wouldn’t expect all our staff to grab a wrench and start plumbing. I would however, expect them to alert the appropriate member of staff. Similarly, if a child is consistently falling below our high expectations, then part of ownership may well be involving other staff – Line manager, head of year, mill tutor etc.
Remember ‘SOD’ should always be about sharing the load, not carrying it all ourselves.