Ask any good headteacher how to tackle poor teaching and learning and they will provide a clear headed, no nonsense approach to this issue. In amongst the actions they recommend will be the setting of clear measurable goals, ensuring that teachers are capable and well prepared to provide structured learning to their students, as well as regular student assessment and monitoring to push students targets upwards.
In short they know what works and they can react quickly to any problem in this area that requires their attention. They know that unless prompt action is being taken by themselves, Ofsted may take a more ruthless approach for them.
Why then are many headteachers blind to the crucial actions that they need to take if their school is threatened by future falls in either intake numbers or intake quality or both? The answer I believe lies in the apparent remoteness of the solution and the ease with which headteachers can escape its glare.
Put simply, building strong relationships with teachers and pupils within a secondary schools’ feeder primarys is a one way bet, almost certain to increase applications for places. When a school is experiencing decline and falling roles, how often is the failure to build these relationships highlighted. Almost never.
Building these relationships takes commitment, time and a cohesive marketing strategy, but it is not complicated. If a school needs to short cut this process their are companies such as ours that have proven methodologies, that minimise the schools commitment and maximise the results.
However a school chooses to approach this issue though, these relationships need to be built fast and on solid foundations. A schools ability to respond to the competitive marketplace that is now present following the austerity budget, depends upon it.
So there it is, both the problem and within it the opportunity. It may take one to two years of investment to see the real impact of building strong primary school relationships. Long enough for weaker, less focussed headteachers to avoid the issue, and blame other factors if their school suffer a decline.
One thing remains true in life however, success comes from a few good habits practiced day after day.
If you know this needs to be done, do it! Build your primary school relationships well and with real vigour, real commitment and watch how fast your school grows.