This is the Headteacher's Blog which was first featured in issue 3 of The Burfordian, published on Friday 20 October 2023.
As parents and carers will be aware, on Monday lunchtime last week (Monday 9 October 2023) we received the call from Ofsted to say that they would be in school for an ungraded inspection on the following two days. I am not able to discuss the process directly or relay the outcome of the inspection. I am keen here however to pick up the theme of ‘scrutiny’; a theme I have touched on before in the Headteacher’s Blog.
Ofsted is a ‘moment in time’ form of scrutiny. The turnaround is therefore very tight, and the pressure implied significant. I am grateful to parents and carers for their prompt replies to the questionnaire sent on Monday (which in effect had to be processed within 24 hours by the inspectors whilst on site). I am particularly grateful to all students who were impeccable over the two-day period, very much demonstrating the values of ‘Respect, Participate, Reach’.
I am aware that rugby is not for everyone, it is however something quite close to my heart and is a sport that many girls and boys engage with at the school. With this in mind, I would like to talk about another example of ‘moment in time’ scrutiny – an international test match. Over the last month, the World Cup has been taking place in France. Last weekend eight teams reached the quarter-final stage. All teams involved had strung together a series of wins in pool matches to earn their right to complete last Saturday and Sunday.
Such a run is not about luck. In fact, whilst many suggest ‘moment in time’ scrutiny is unfair, the outcome is rarely about chance. Anecdotes always exist to buck the trend, yet on closer examination they are rare in the context of the broader picture. On the way to winning the World Cup in 2003, England put together a run of 17 matches unbeaten, as did New Zealand on the way to taking the Cup in 2015. Most winners achieve the ultimate prize on the back of consistent form running back months or years. The key therefore to success at ‘moment in time’ examinations is to build in ongoing internal scrutiny. Resilience is built through conditioning under pressure, week to week and month to month.
Every single team who played last weekend put together a festival of rugby that lit up the pitches. It was quite brilliant to watch. Everyone who took part could be proud of delivering performances of the highest standard. This was achieved through preparation and intensity of scrutiny in all areas of the game, in attack and defence. Diet, physiology, psychology, team identity, kit...... you name it, everything would have been scrutinised in the preparation for this tournament. It is a multifaceted approach and not one dimensional. It is our ambition at Burford to push to provide the ‘best of education’. That means seeking out scrutiny of the most forensic sort. Ofsted is ‘moment in time’ scrutiny for the staff. For the students, examinations are that key instant of pressure. For both students and staff, feedback through scrutiny is required along the way to ensure there is background conditioning in place providing the skills of adaptability and resilience for pressured scenarios.