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Celebrating success

flixton-girls-edu-outcomes-1024Sue-Williamson-finalSue Williamson, Chief Executive, writes…

We have just finished the regional events celebrating the Educational Outcomes award winners. The events have been really enjoyable and head teachers have been telling me how much they value the awards. We all need affirmation that we are going in the right direction. The events celebrate what has been achieved – and here there is no “even better if.”

Feedback – if delivered in the right way – can improve performance. I love watching Masterchef and the recent series provided many wonderful examples of feedback to help the contestants do better. Jane, the winner, devoured all the feedback she was given and used it to provide a superb three-course meal in the final. Judges John and Greg frequently commented on the progress she had made.

Not everyone can take feedback on their performance, as the newspapers have revealed about the highly paid footballers at Manchester United. Perhaps it was because they had no confidence that the manager could improve their game, or maybe it was the way feedback was given.

It can be very hard to hear that you have to “raise your game”, as I experienced when taking my dog, Kim, to dog training. Charlie, the instructor, was ex-Army and used very explicit language to describe your performance and that of your dog. Kim had attitude – she could do all the exercises, but chose not to. We had to take all the classes four times until she reached Club level and we were both deemed to have passed. It was no coincidence that both our names were on the certificate.

So it was with some trepidation that I took our puppy, Theo, to the same trainer. I went back because I knew that at the end of the classes I would have a well-trained, obedient dog. Theo loves to learn – he was a star of puppy class and passed novice class first time. Proud owner!

It was interesting to observe how other owners reacted to instructions. One very nice couple rewarded their dog for sitting when the dog was meant to be in the down position. They were told, “If you reward crap, you get crap.” Recognition of success has to be authentic.

One very nice couple rewarded their dog for sitting when the dog was meant to be in the down position. They were told, “If you reward crap, you get crap.” Recognition of success has to be authentic.

I have been privileged to be a Teaching Awards judge for the lifetime achievement award. All the potential awards winners have been nominated by their colleagues, and during the visits we hear from teachers, parents, governors and students.

The most impressive feedback comes from the students, and I was truly moved when one year 11 student said: “Our grades were crap until Mr. X started to teach us. He listens to us, understands us, and I know what I have to do. When I’m in the exam room I hear him talking to me. He’s changed my life.”

Not content with this contribution, she went away and wrote a testimonial on one side of A4. The Teaching Awards recognise achievement – what better feedback can you have than you changed a young person’s life?

I am committed to SSAT doing even more to recognise the achievements of schools, students and teachers. We need to celebrate together much more. But celebrate real achievements, the right things, within our schools as well as across them.

SSAT member and want to find out more about the Educational Outcomes school performance database? Visit the member area of the website.

The image at the top of this article features two colleagues from Flixton Girls’ School – winners of awards for exceptional student attainment and progress. Did your school win an award? Contact our team of relationship managers to get a hi-res copy of you with your award.

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