Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Triumph over adversity - Sawyers Hall College

My colleague, Christina, and I were fortunate enough to win a professional development scholarship from CORE Education which has enabled us to travel to London for professional learning. Our plans while here are to shoot a digital story at Sawyers Hall College, attend a day's training with Urban Fox, visit Leigh Academy to shoot an EdTalk, and visit Teachers TV. Our aim is to build on our skills in digital story telling.

We visited Sawyers Hall College in Brentwood. They are using CORE's EPS web based self review tool and our task was to shoot a case study of videos with management, teachers and students about their experience with the tool.

The story that made me sit up and think though, is based in student voice.

Sawyers Hall was a school that was going downhill fast and facing closure due to bad performance. Stephen Capper was appointed as the head teacher (principal) and slowly started to turn things around. He told us this story, which is the philosophy of the school:

A wise old man was sitting at the beach watching a young boy. There had been a storm and hundreds of starfish had washed up on the shore and were slowly dying. The young boy was walking along throwing the starfish back into the ocean one by one. The old man walked up to the boy and asked him why he was wasting his time, he couldn't possibly make a difference with so many starfish washed up on the shore. The boy looked at the old man, then picked up one starfish and threw it back into the sea, "made a difference to that one," he replied.
Because of the care of the staff and the philosophy of the school to put students at the heart, the school has slowly turned around and is making progress now in leaps and bounds. They are truly making a difference. This difference was not because of measurement, but because of seeing each child as an individual.

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