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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Changing culture and getting it right - what can housing learn from education?


Ahead of his session at TAI 2018, Wales head teacher of the year 2017 Mark Thompson takes us through the journey St. Helen’s Primary has been on in Swansea, where vast improvements in the school’s performance have been achieved through a collaborative approach among staff and with the wider community.

When I joined St Helen's in 2010, the overall attendance rate was below 90% and placed the school in the bottom 25% when compared with similar schools. Collectively, our staff have ensured massive improvements over the past seven years, culminating in an excellent grade awarded by Estyn in 2016. Since taking up the position of head teacher, attendance figures have improved significantly. The school has moved from the bottom 25% when compared with schools with a similar proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals, to the top 25%. This has resulted in the school producing a best practice report for Estyn.

Staff have worked tirelessly to change the culture of the school and it has significantly improved, creating the right conditions for learners (colleagues and children) so we have grown in confidence and continuously thrived and develop. We aim to treat everyone fairly, living our school motto, All Different, All Equal.

We have tried to show flexibility in our leadership and management, ensuring all staff get on board and stay on board to reach the final destination together. We have made it a priority to ensure there are clear systems and processes in place throughout the school to ensure consistency and progression for staff and pupils.

We have always had immense regard for the workload of staff in order to ensure positive staff morale and mental wellbeing. We have a clear vision of what makes the biggest difference and always remain focused on our core business. Any task undertaken benefits the whole school and ultimately raises pupil standards regardless who is leading or what is being led. We all have a shared understanding of how we are doing, how we know and how we can further improve.

We have the highest expectations but these are always married with realistic goals and manageable timescales. As leaders we always try to be approachable and always make ourselves available to the wider school community.

We have worked tirelessly to put our school at the heart of the community and we all feel so proud to be part of St Helens.

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