On Thursday night, we had our Y6 parents’ event. In most schools this is about fresh displays, performing kids and the entire staff staying late after a full day of teaching.
I’ve always found these events superficial. I’d far rather be upfront. This is who we are. This is what you get.
There was an excellent turn out. Far bigger than last year. That, in itself, was pleasing.
Several staff did stay. They chose to. No fresh displays, no razzmatazz. Parents came into the main hall, sat down and awaited a short presentation from me. So far, so dull.
No song n dance routine, no Bunsen burners, no explosions, no choir and it was a fantastic night! I left, beaming!
Why? The kids, of course!
We asked for volunteer pupils to come, chat to families and take questions. Loads turned up. They were bristling with pride. Their teachers were a little choked at times. Charter pupils do us proud. They really, really do.
Some pupils from years 10 and 11 addressed the audience, which must have been around 300 strong. Our kids, all volunteers, shone.
They were articulate, composed, obviously unrehearsed and, even more obviously, sincere.
They spoke of calm lessons, of feeling happy and safe, of strict teachers who can still have a joke, of big ambitions for the future.
Our older kids sold Charter by simply embodying what Charter is all about. They were confident, grateful, passionate and honest.
None of this was rehearsed. It was all very impromptu. That’s what made it so special.
I then asked if any of the younger pupils would like to speak. The cutest Y7 stepped forward. She’d been with us a matter of weeks. She had the entire audience in the palm of her hand.
She told us how she was happy and safe, how pupils and teachers were kind, how at Charter we help and support each other. She was mesmerising.
I spotted an ex-pupil in the audience, year 11 last year, she’d had one year of Charter. I put her on the spot. I invited her to tell the audience what her experience of Charter had been. She wasn’t expecting this at all.
She came to the front. She was a little diffident at first. Then she told the audience what being Charter in year 11 had meant to her.
She talked about calm classes, classes where you can learn, join in, be keen, all without fear of ridicule. That was a new experience for her in year 11.
She talked about teachers just teaching, free from interruption.
She talked about how Charter had made her a more confident person and how that final Charter push, in year 11, had been crucial in helping her secure excellent grades.
I didn’t need to be there to sell the school. The kids did it for us. I told the audience, in no uncertain terms, what we stand for and what we won’t tolerate. I don’t want anyone thinking we’re something we’re not.
We’re unequivocally WARM and strict. We’re both. Just visit. You’ll see. And if you sign up to Charter you can’t pick and choose the rules you like and the rules you don’t. This isn’t pic n mix.
I took lots of questions from the audience. I couldn’t be any more open.
Because of lies spread on social media, there’s always a smattering of questions about toilets and SEND. They’re easy to put to bed. You’ve only got to look at our glowing February 2018 Ofsted. Or, as is our constant refrain, come in, talk to staff and kids, take a tour, see lessons, changeovers, break, lunch.
There was a question about technology and ict. We don’t do them. We give more hours to core subjects instead.
As far as I’m concerned, computers are not ‘the future’.
Being able to read, write, count, with great attendance, perfect punctuality, fantastic manners, being able to present yourself with healthy self-confidence, being articulate, being kind to one another, that’s the future. This is where we focus.
Pupils take 9 GCSEs. They have options, including art, photography, drama, sport, music and child care.
We were asked why we only teach French. We only teach French because we believe in teaching one language brilliantly well and we have phenomenal expertise in teaching French. Ask anyone who’s seen and heard kids I’ve taught.
Beyond that, I reiterated the message,
“Any morning, 10.30am. Rock up! Take a tour, see what we do with your own eyes. Monday to Friday. Talk to staff and kids No holds barred. We’re an open book. Believe nothing you see, hear or read. Visit! And remember, our detractors have, not once, toured the school, not once seen lessons, not once talked to staff.”
At the end, I hadn’t anticipated that anyone would actually want to look around. Empty classrooms are not that exciting. Surprisingly, lots did want to look around.
Our kids and staff took them around. I spoke to a lot more parents. The ones that had talked with our kids were full of praise! The kids were beaming. They’re proud of their school.
The kids made me very proud on Thursday. One pupil in particular, received a lot of praise from parents she’d taken around the school.
She’d only recently joined Charter, in the summer term. Her mum had enrolled her with us because she was worried her daughter was misbehaving at her previous school and that she was going seriously off the rails.
This new pupil shone. Full of Charter confidence.
Charter changes people. Kids and teachers reclaim their pride. They grow. They become bigger. They become, what we call, Charter-sized.
When you visit, you see it in their faces, their body language. You hear it in their voices, the way staff and pupils talk to one another.
I always tell the kids, “Remember what my dad told us when we were kids. You’re top of the pyramid! There’s nobody like us. We’re a team, we’re Charter 24/7. Now go out there and be merit machines! Be merit monsters! Be Charter-tastic magic! Be Charter Chocolate!”
On Thursday night, yet again, our kids made us proud, They were, yet again, 100% Charter Chocolate.
Open-minded visitors very welcome.