Posted on 14/03/2017
YOUR FBS NEEDS YOU
The Fulham Boys School has made some big pledges. The biggest, without a doubt, is that we can be among the very best schools in this country – state or private – by 2024.
The first obvious question is, is that achievable? Is it realistic? According to advisors, inspectors, community focus groups and visitors who have all come into the school, this isn’t just big talk by an ambitious school.. They tell us that the school is delivering on the big claims we made before we opened, and that FBS is genuinely on course to be one of the very best.
So the second question then is how? How is a school with a non-selective intake going to pull off what most people would say is the impossible?
As we have always said, to have an outstanding school you must have outstanding teachers. And to be an exceptional school, these outstanding teachers must go above and beyond. FBS teachers do just that. As well as planning and teaching lessons and marking boys’ work, they eat lunch with the boys, run co-curricular clubs until 5pm, take boys to debating competitions in the evening, put on concerts, take them to sports fixtures on a Saturday and in a nut shell see their job as doing whatever needs doing.
Boys also have to buy into the FBS vision. They have to realise the privilege of being a Fulham Boy and understand that with this privilege comes huge responsibility. A resolve to have a ‘can do’ attitude, never to give in and never give up; never to use postcode as an excuse or a reason to show off, and a commitment to always having the highest standards, standards, standards!
And as this is the week where parents decide whether or not to accept the offer they have been given of a secondary school for their child in September, I think it’s important to outline what we believe parents need to do if we are really going to pull this off. That they understand that for FBS to be exceptional, to stand head and shoulders above the rest, we are completely reliant on an active, supportive, co-operative partnership with parents.
Over the next two weeks I’m intending to meet with every parent whose son has a place at FBS in September to explain the school’s ethos. I will then be meeting all current parents, to refresh their understanding of the partnership.
Department for Education research shows parental involvement helps boost academic outcomes, and all schools set out to involve parents to a lesser or greater degree. FBS goes some way further than most schools because, to be an exceptional school, it needs exceptional parental buy-in.
The Home School Agreement which all boys, teachers and parents are required to sign at the start of each year outlines the expectation that parents will support their son’s behaviour, attendance and the school’s expectations of him; also, that they will actively engage with the school, attending teacher consultations and whole school events. However, being an FBS parent means more than ticking a box. It means buying-in to the spirit, as well as the letter. FBS would not have opened without exceptional support from parents and all parents are expected to reinforce this founding ethos.
For some parents, this means giving some of their time; volunteering during the school day, for admin support, supervision or for escorting groups of boys to sport or other activities, while for others, it’s offering skills or expertise – helping to run an exceptional breadth of clubs in our co-curricular programme that inspire and engage boys way beyond ‘normal’ school.
And there are some with great contacts – providing guest speakers, links to business, sporting or cultural organisations that contribute invaluable enrichment and, looking forward, options for mentoring or work experience.
Some of our parents volunteer their organisational skills – The Friends of FBS’s events bring together the whole school – from staff celebrations to the summer festival. And some are in a position to make donations – from raffle and auction prizes to the regular standing orders that enable FBS to offer much more, in and out of the classroom, than our Department for Education funding allows
I appreciate that some prospective staff, pupils and parents find this too much; too demanding. I get it. FBS isn’t for everyone. But if FBS is going to pull this off and take on the biggest and best in our country (which I really believe we will), the thinking cannot be ‘what can FBS do for me’ but rather ‘what I can do for FBS’.
Boys, teachers, parents, governors: your FBS needs you.