Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Climb every mountain!

During the October half-term break I spent some time in Scotland. The wilderness and forests were just glorious and beautiful in their full autumnal colours. Whilst my wife had planned it as a short, restful break I quickly turned the opportunity to set myself (and her) another challenge.

Kitted out in appropriate mountaineering gear we set off on a wild and misty day to walk to the top of the Cairngorm summit. Whilst others were making the journey on the funicular we trekked up the steep, already snow covered rocky paths in a 50mph gale. At 4085 feet it is the sixth highest mountain in the UK. It took several hours!

At times it was two steps forward and one back with the odd strong gust blowing us sideways. The final few hundred metres was quite eerie with the hazy sun straining to break through the grey cloud rushing over the peak. Precariously balanced on the cairn at the summit, we took some incredible photos but felt disappointed we were unable to see the expected magnificent views.

As we started on the perilous return path, the wind suddenly abated, the sky cleared out and the awesome panorama finally made the journey all worthwhile. I said to my wife, “wow! Look at that” and gave her a hug.

The next day we did a tough 28 miles bike ride.

So what is the point of my story?

Learning is a life-long experience and series of challenges, both personally and professionally, as we strive to be better at what we do and who we are. It can be tough and things crop up that occasionally blow us off course. But it’s always important to have a goal, set high expectations and strive to achieve them. We need to be resilient and keep the faith in what we believe is right, learning from our experiences as we strive to achieve our aims. When our hard work brings success, especially when the journey has been difficult, we should celebrate with those that have helped us achieve it. Once the celebrations subside we need to plan the next steps and challenge to achieve even more.

This week our second Serious Weaknesses Ofsted Monitoring report was published. It highlights the good progress we have made since the HMI’s first visit. It identifies significant strengths of the college and the positive impact of actions we have taken. I am pleased it talks of ‘higher expectations’, ‘greater ambition’ and that the ‘bar has been raised’. Classroom practice observed demonstrated clear evidence of the professional development undertaken. We are clearly moving forward at a pace. There are and will always be things we can improve on, even when we become outstanding. This positive report should give everyone confidence that our college is succeeding. I am pleased we have climbed one mountain; now on to the next!