I had not returned to my Nurture 1415 post until this week, but I have stayed aware of my 'best hopes' as 2015 took shape. Although many good intentions and ambitions have not been achieved, the process of setting out my best hopes in a public forum created a sense of being accountable to someone other than myself. I have found the idea of being part of a wider conversation/narrative helpful and looked forward to the time and opportunity to do this again. So here goes,five 'best bits' from 2015 and some best hopes for 2016 (in no particular order):
1. In November 2015 I was invited to be part of a panel discussion at the annual conference of the Association of Educational Psychologists, our union and professional association. I had been asked to represent one example of the range of organisations now employing educational psychologists. Five years ago, when we set up Catalyst Psychology, almost all EPs were still employed by local authorities. As patterns of employment are changing rapidly, our union has had to adjust and adapt to the changing needs of its membership. I was honoured to be representing the small social enterprise sector, and to be able to contribute to discussion and debate about future professional and employment-related issues.
In 2016 I hope that we will continue to define the difference that social businesses can make within the inevitable expansion in the marketisation of educational services. There are many challenges ahead for small social businesses like ours, but I still believe that, if schools must purchase services, they should have a choice of business models and organisations. We are proud to be able to 'fly the flag' for social enterprise.
2. Also in November, I was invited by our local Teaching Schools Alliance to attend a well-organised and inspiring conference on Leadership for schools. Amongst the many excellent speakers I heard Drew Povey of Harrop Fold School, and was introduced to the ideas of Simon Sinek and 'Finding your Why'. People have said to me "oh it's just about doing your mission statement, we've all done it before, it's nothing new", but I don't entirely agree. I found Sinek's TED talk inspirational, and very timely for me and my team. We spent some time really thinking hard about our "why" and have come up with an enhanced sense of what motivates us to do what we do. We have completely re-written our mission statement.
The part I like best is:
"All children are wonderful. We believe in creating opportunities for them to enjoy their learning ...."
This is enough for me, and this simple ambition will guide all of our work during 2016.
3. Last year, I was inspired by the #Nurture1415 blog of @Mishwood1, writing about Investors in People and the difference it had made to her school. I have met some scepticism as I've talked about my interest in this, and it took me until December to follow through in finding out more about the process and award. However, taking one small step forward, I did eventually attend a briefing morning and now understand how, as a small organisation, we can use this framework to support investment in our team.
A firm commitment here: during 2016 we will adopt the Investors in People framework formally as part of our development plan. We may even be able to achieve initial accreditation!
4. In October 2015 we were privileged to welcome Katherine Weare to Manchester to speak at our 3rd Inclusion Matters conference on Mental Health in Schools. This remains an important area, and of great concern to those of us working with children and families experiencing barriers to their participation in school and in society more widely.
During 2016 I want to build on this work more systematically with schools. Linked to this, and in the wake of recent world events, my team has raised questions about how we can work to support schools and children managing the impact of terror and associated issues. As one response, our 2016 conference will take the theme of Diversity and Resilience - watch this space!
5. Last year I wrote about how proud we were to have a CPD course for teaching assistants accredited by NCFE. During 2015 our first cohort achieved a Level 2 certificate in 'Applied Psychology for Teaching and Learning Assistants'. All 12 teaching assistants were sponsored by one school, and I will be honoured to be part of the special assembly planned for the New Year, when these TAs will receive their certificates in front of the children and teachers they support.
I haven't yet registered our CPD on the 'Good CPD' (now known as the Teacher Development Trust Adviser) website, but I am satisfied now that we meet the criteria, and getting our course registered is definitely on my 'to do' list (again) for 2016.
And finally, two personal ambitions.....
In 2015, after 3 years on a waiting list, we acquired an allotment. This certainly helps with the life/work blend. In 2016 I will be growing the flowers for my daughter's wedding......
.....I also aim to read at least 1 book a month, 12 books in 2016.
I'll let you know how it goes!!