As I finish my work at Plumpton College after 18 months of being a part of an amazing journey of change and improvement, I have been reflecting on what has driven such phenomenal progress both organisationally and culturally over this time.
Of course it is about effective leadership and management and the quality of teaching, learning and assessment. It is most definitely about the personal development, behaviour and welfare of students and it is always about the best possible outcomes for those learners, whatever their starting point on the learning journey. In seeking to improve and in heading towards an Ofsted re-inspection the focus has always been on what evidence the inspectors will want to see in their mission to raise standards and improve the lives of students in further education. Yet the change at Plumpton has been much more than just a short-term campaign to improve an Ofsted grading, it has been educational, moral, cultural, inspirational, visionary and with a clear long term strategy for growth and development.
Plumpton College is not just any College of Further Education, it has maintained its position as an independent specialist land based college providing uniquely inclusive opportunities, led by what is needed to develop the knowledge and skills required in the land based sector both now and in the future. It has embraced the need for change with a passion that encourages everybody (students and staff) to ‘be the best they can be’.
So how do we become the ‘best we can be’? It is a call to action which I have unapologetically borrowed from Plumpton’s inspirational Principal, who in my opinion, is one of the most talented leaders I have had the pleasure to work with in my career. Being the best we can be is about having a clarity of purpose, a mission if you like. It is about recognising and sharing the values that drive us to do what we do, it is about those values influencing our objectives personally and organisationally.
From a teaching perspective it is about unlocking the potential in others, but it is always about the journey, that life long journey of discovery which learning provides. We learn from everything and everybody around us, we are inspired by others, we develop our own aspirations based on a positive and exciting vision of what can be achieved, we accept advice from mentors and coaches and we always strive to improve. Yet ‘being the best we can be’ does not just apply to our working lives, it applies to every aspect of our lives. It underpins everything we do and it becomes our reason for being, it is the one thing we all have the capability of doing, ‘being the best we can be’.
For me this has always been about how I can make a positive difference to the lives of others, whether this has been saving lives in responding to emergencies or my vocation as a teacher, instructor, leader and mentor. It is about inspiring others to have aspiration, to share a vision of life and work which is complementary and for the greater good of humanity.
Being the best we can be should be a motto for our lives, our call to action, the desire that fuels our passion to learn, to acquire knowledge and skills and to use them, to seek the truth, to be champions for justice, to see the good in humanity, to be honest in everything we do, to never ignore those in crisis and to care for others and the environment. Be the best you can be………….