Posted on 04/07/2016

Looking Back and Looking Forward

It’s the last week of the school year. When we break up on Friday, FBS will have been in existence for two years. As the whole school embarks on Enterprise week, I have the morning (poignantly before I go to the DfE this afternoon for a meeting about the permanent site!) to reflect on our past and look forward to the future.

So as I look back, what do I think and how do I feel?

When we interview staff for positions at FBS we ask them what three words they (and then their pupils) would use to describe them, so let me summarise my thoughts and feelings in three words: Tired, proud and humbled.

Tired because FBS is a million miles an hour. Long days. Incredibly demanding. An unyielding determination to strive to be the best. After two years at such a relentless pace (not to mention the year leading up to opening – and what a year!), I’m tired.  But I can’t complain. I’m about to have nearly two months off; two months to read, write, go on holiday, visit Wales, relax and spend time with my family. If I had a fourth word it would be thankful.

Proud because, as our community focus group told us a few weeks ago, the school has delivered and continues to deliver on the big claims we made before we opened. In our termly whole school reviews, the feedback from the DfE, headteachers, inspectors and advisors who’ve been part of the review teams is that we should be judged outstanding when Ofted visit. The DfE’s assessment is that the school continues to thrive as it develops and grows. And as a literacy advisor who visited the school last week tweeted, she has never been so excited about KS3 assessment.

Proud also because in our second year we have won three rugby trophies, two football tournaments, can boast the Hammersmith and Fulham indoor rowing champion and a gold medallist in rowing at the London Youth Games. But our boys don’t just fill me with pride on the sports field. We’ve got some brilliant actors and singers currently performing in our school show; we’ve got linguists who have sat GCSE French in Year 7; we’ve discovered budding young chefs who cooked some amazing food for International Food Market day, baked cakes for the British food fortnight and cooked for the homeless.

And proud because our boys’ rate of progress in the classroom is outstanding.  Their knowledge, understanding and ability to offer opinions on current affairs, as the newsreader Huw Edwards commented, is so impressive for boys so young. Their singing in assemblies is spine tingling and their social conscience has been demonstrated, among other ways, on a trip to the Calais Jungle. The DfE said that our boys’ attitude and personal development is outstanding, that expectations are extremely high and all boys know what is expected. And to quote the Community Focus Group once more, ‘Outside school, behaviour is seen to be very good. Boys appear proud of their uniform and not a presence to be side stepped on the street’.  So much to be proud of before mentioning the small matter of pulling off the impossible: opening the school in the first place! Let’s never forget the spirit, energy, vision, strategic thinking, well-reasoned arguments and dignity that got us to this stage. The very DNA of FBS!

All of this leaves me feeling humbled.  People tell me how great FBS is but I’m really not the one they should be telling. What FBS has achieved in such a short period of time is down to some exceptional governors, outstanding teachers, committed parents and boys I’d go to war for! Governors and founders with incredible vision and drive, whose commitment, energy, perseverance, ability and nous never ceases to humble me. Teachers who are inspirational, brilliant at getting the best out of boys, committed, go over and above again and again and again. Parents who are supportive and generous in so many ways; without them we would not be able to do half of what we do! Boys who care and fully embrace the ethos of the school. They don’t always exhibit the high standards we demand, but boy do they want to and it really matters to them when they don’t! Teachers, Governors, Founders, Parents and Boys are the real heroes of FBS. I am humbled to be part of something so special.

But what do I think when I look forward? What three words spring to mind then?

Focused, excited and determined.

Focused because next year Ofsted will visit FBS and we must prove without any doubt that we are outstanding. Standards cannot slip. Our strong, distinctive ethos must continually be reinforced. Some things need to become better embedded and others more consistent, while all that is already outstanding needs to be taken to the next level. Our aim must be to be beyond outstanding. All of this needs focus.

Excited. We’ve got 120 new boys starting in September. And 120 new sets of parents. And 12 new staff. We held an induction day for the new staff last week. They all ‘get’ the FBS way of doing things, will add real value and take us to that all important next level. We are particularly excited that all four houses will have heads of house and that two assistant headteachers are joining to strengthen the Senior Leadership Team.

Excited also because our GCSE option process begins in September. Excited about what we are offering and  excited to see the subjects our Year 9 boys will choose. And when we return in September we’ll have the benefit of 12 new classrooms, three new Science labs and most exciting of all for the boys, lockers! So much to get excited about and I’ve still not mentioned …in some ways the most exciting thing of all!

Which brings me to my third word, determined. Determined that our ‘can do’, anything is possible attitude that has got us to where we are now, gets us to where we need to go next. The school we have built is remarkable.  Being on our temporary site has taught our boys and staff to be resilient and to just get on with things. But we need to be in our permanent site as soon as possible. So rest assured we are determined that FBS will be ‘home’ soon, and what a home it will be!  And with that in mind, I must get ready for that meeting.

Have a great Summer!


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