Principal’s Blog – Principle 5: Shoot for the stars

Our next principle applies to our expectations of ourselves as well as our students. In terms of the latter at King’s we want our staff to truly believe in themselves and their ability. Human beings, by their nature, are explorers. We want to know what is beyond the horizon and as a species we want to test the limits of our potential.

We see this often in the sporting arena, many records, down the years, were thought to be sacrosanct; the 4 minute mile, the 2 hour marathon, the 147 break. All until someone with dedication shattered them and our expectations had to be adjusted. However, it is often deemed to be more socially appropriate to be humble, ‘know our place’ and not reach too far in order to not be seen as arrogant.

For many of you this could well apply to your careers and grasping new opportunities. When a new position appears do you think ‘I’m not quite ready yet’ or ‘someone else will get that’? Instead why not reframe these thoughts to ‘I think I could do a really good job at that’ and take that leap of faith. As the old cliche goes- ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.

As for our students, having the highest expectations for them, both inside and outside of the classroom, is crucial to helping them achieve their legacy. Too often in secondary schools Year 7s are underestimated, babied and work made ‘accessible’ for them (code for ‘far too easy’). We forget the challenges they have gone through, and overcome, both academically and socially, in primary school. At King’s we know that our young students can take on leadership roles, work in teams to clean up after family dining, stand in front of their year group to recite poetry and much more. In the classroom they can debate challenging ideas and retain complex knowledge.

By teaching to the top we allow all students to access this amazing and broad curriculum – giving them a taste of the best that has been thought and said throughout a range of disciplines. It also means SEN students and those who have different academic starting points are not limited and have the same opportunities as their peers. What is important is that our expectations of our students are always growing as they meet the previous challenges. Given the right support the stars are the limit.

I leave you with a favourite poem of mine. Here is Idris Elba reciting it at SPOTY a few years back.

It Couldn’t Be Done
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it