At present, I’m a trustee at Uppingham and a governor of Delamere C of E County Primary Academy. Both schools show the similarity between a successful school and a brilliant business. Both benefit from creating the right culture, having an inspirational head or chief executive, picking great people and giving them the freedom to use their initiative.
It’s demoralising for many people, who volunteer to be school governors, to discover the local authority sends them on a training course to explain how to toe the line and stick to the rules. In my book, a governor’s job (especially the chairman) is to provide moral support to the headteacher. In most schools the governing body follows a standard agenda, designed to ensure the school follows guidelines, policies, directions and a curriculum issued by the local authority.
I’m proud that, at Delamere, the team pigeon-holed unnecessary processes and paperwork, ignored best practice and concentrated on common sense. As a result the head, Steve Docking, and his team built a centre of excellence that turned a failing school into the UK’s first primary academy with a great buzz and a big waiting list. That model is now being replicated in a Free School in Chester and a previously problematic primary school in Winsford, which in less than a year is already showing all the signs of future success.
From what I’ve seen there’s no need for any new guidelines. We don’t need think-tanks or working parties to study how schools should dovetail with business. The way to provide young people with the right preparation for a career is to ignore red tape, select great teachers and let them use their initiative to create a great school.
There’s no perfect answer – you can’t create success by writing a set of rules. We need the courage to pick people with vision and trust them to use their initiative. Future generations will be given much greater prospects if their education is led by a free-spirited inspirational leader.
Q What is the best thing I could do, aged 30, that would benefit me the most when aged 60?
A Although it helps to find financial success, your future wellbeing and happiness won’t just be to do with money.
It makes a big difference if you work for, and alongside, nice people who you respect, doing a job you are both good at and enjoy. But you are unlikely to make the most of your career without a happy home life. It’s a bonus if you have picked a partner by the age of 30 who is still your best friend when you are 60.
Hobbies help, as having a personal passion can stop you becoming a workaholic. Health matters, so make sure you keep fit – at 30, too many of us stop doing exercise but keep up the food and drink.
If you have children, spend as much time with them as possible, as later in life they will become your closest friends and by the time you reach 60 you will probably be spending many happy hours with your grandchildren.
Most of all, don’t worry about getting older. The best thing you can do at 30 is to enjoy life to the full. When you get to 60, you will probably feel nothing like as old as you expected and will be just as capable of keeping busy and having fun.
Oh, and I nearly forgot, be polite to everyone – you never know when your paths will cross again.
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