I know you
I have enjoyed welcoming some of you into school for parents’ evenings in the last fortnight. I am naturally pleased when parents comment as they leave that the teachers know their child very well and have given frank, specific and encouraging advice. This is especially important for Years 11 and 13 as they work towards their exams in the summer.
Why am I pleased? Because I know just how important individual knowledge and care are for the success and happiness of our pupils. One of my colleagues who joined us from a Sixth Form provider in the city recently reinforced this point: with classes half the size, she can get to know her pupils really well, giving them very focussed feedback and support, and thus maximising their opportunity to do their abilities justice. Her pupils are far more than a row of grades in her mark book: she knows what makes them tick and when they will benefit from more guidance or challenge.
A pupil who feels known and valued for who they are, having a positive and meaningful relationship with their teachers or tutor, is more likely to thrive. That positive relationship is, of course, two-way and based on a sense of mutual respect. All of us as adults remember those teachers who truly inspired us, whom we admired not only because their lessons were fun and interesting but also because they took an interest in us as individuals. In social gatherings in our adult lives too, it is easy to detect whether someone is actively listening to us and asking genuinely curious questions or whether they would actually prefer to focus exclusively on themselves or quickly move on to a more ‘stimulating’ conversation!
From a safeguarding point of view, we are much more likely as teachers to notice if something isn’t quite right or if there is a change of mood if we know our pupils well. And they will be more prepared to confide in us when they are worried or troubled if they feel safe in our presence and trust us to listen and understand.
Such is the community we aim to create at LGS.