For what its worth here are fifteen thoughts for anyone thinking about running a school in which young people flourish:
1. Understand your own beliefs about God, the universe and the purpose of education. Understand your own epistemology. The faith and perspective of the leader matters.
2. Work with your governors on marrying your vision and theirs for the school. Keep on discussing the vision with them.
3. Articulate consistently in a variety of venues and modes the central vision of the school. Tell your school’s story every day.
4. Seek in collaboration with the governors, executive, staff, students, parents and other key stakeholders to develop a strategy to fulfil the vision. Document this well.
5. A school is then run by ten thousand conversations. It is not run by acts of power but by acts of love.
6. Focus on developing school tone and student agency. Work assiduously towards giving the students agency. Partner with students behind the scenes of the public events. A successful school has students leading events and learning. If an event can run fully without any teacher instructing a student whilst it is running, if students can self-monitor and exhibit self-control, you are developing a good school tone. Effective classrooms are about learning, not teacher power. The teacher has authority in order to allow learning to occur.
7. Teach all disciplines well and seek to interconnect them. Teach science and mathematics, language and history, the arts and physical pursuits with passion and skill. Avoid any one of these subjects becoming your base philosophy (e.g., Scientism)
8. Teach theological, philosophical, scientific, mathematical (etc.) thinking as well as critical thinking. The focus on deconstruction assists students to critique power but not to know how to create anything useful in its place. The aim of education is to learn to love, not simply to gain equality or influence, wealth or status. Our task is to educate students to build a good society, not just to voice their discontent or enrich themselves.
9. Foster the moral conscience. Yet consider that grace and forgiveness are its basis.
10. Never take someone else’s package of epistemology and values (e.g., positive psychology, critical pedagogy) and simply implement it. It must be developed within your setting and be based on your vision.
11. Really enjoy children and teenagers. Foster a culture of love for youth.
12. Respect and enjoy your staff. They are the only way that any of the above will occur.
13. Connect closely with parents and build a community.
14. Make sure people have time to rest. Rest is an act of justice and not simply a chance for self-pleasure. Rest is an act of love towards another.
15. Dream with your use of resources but stay within your budget.