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DIGNITY & RESPECT

Dear colleagues
 
Well done and thank you! You made it – another term is coming to its close and you have done an incredible job. If no-one has told you that yet today, let me repeat it – you have done an incredible job!
 
One of the great challenges of working in education is that we feel that we are consistently under a lot of pressure to get better – it drives a narrative of ‘whatever you’re doing, it’s still not enough’. There’s no doubt that our passion for improvement in education is central to the releasing of flourishing of children and adults, and that these children only get one shot at this. However, it can lead to a culture which leaves us feeling that whatever we have put in, we are not enough.
 
The reality of Educating for Dignity and Respect is quite different – you are enough.
 
It is worth repeating—even taking a moment to repeat it in front of a mirror (literally a piece of glass, or a conversation partner who can speak truth in love). You are good enough.
 
This strengths-based approach doesn't mean that we excuse things that are going wrong or accept poor performance—these still need to be addressed with dignity and love.  However, drawing out that which is already within others is completely foundational to our approach to flourishing—just as it is a fundamental orientation of pedagogy. It is at the heart of great coaching and what leaders do instinctively—cheering on the growth that they can see, even when it is just a small green shoot.
 
We hope that this week’ resources continue to inspire and support you – and I really encourage you to take a moment to listen to this week’s podcast. Emily’s interview with Angie Browne is wonderful and will be 30 minutes of your life very well spent!
 
Rest well over Easter and thank you so much for all you’re doing.

 
Andy Wolfe - Deputy Chief Education Officer (Leadership Development)

 Educating for Dignity and Respect
Human dignity, the ultimate worth of each person, is central to good education.
The basic principle of respect for the value of each person involves continual discernment, deliberation and action, and schools are one of the main places where this happens, and where the understanding and practices it requires are learned. This includes vigilant safeguarding. It is especially important that the equal worth of those with and without special educational needs and disabilities is recognized in practice. For the first time in history, there is now something approaching global agreement on the worth of each person through the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and its successor declarations, covenants and conventions, including that in 2006 on the rights of persons with disabilities. How that is worked out in each nation and each school is a massive task that calls on the inspiration and resources offered by each tradition of faith and belief.
This week's Called, Connected, Committed podcast is a conversation with Angela Browne, Leadership Coach and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant.
Find out more about Angela's work here
Listen to our Podcast with Angela here 
Resources for further reflection
'Excited about the possibility of a different type of education.'
This video showcases British Vogue's Forces for Change - a beautifully diverse group of women making an impact in the world. One of these, Yara Shahidi, prioritises education as her force for change, saying: 
'The way we learn to engage with one another in school has everything to do with who we choose to relate to and who we care about - which has real consequences'.
I wonder how the education in your school is a force for change?
'I am a human being - born, and therefore worthy - doing the best I can... Thoughts go through our heads of not being good enough.'
'The most transformational moment of coaching is when you realise that it was always within you... the stability of coming home to yourself, knowing you always had the answers.' 
'Teachers need to be adults worthy of imitation.'
Where do you draw your strength from in order to live a life worth imitating?
This throwback to the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony features the classic hymn 'Abide with Me' - a prayer asking for God's strength to enable us.
'I need your presence, every waking hour.'
'With a real sense of integrity - I am really committed to doing this in a way that is the fullest expression of me.'
'Who am I going to be?' Michelle Obama challenges students to think carefully about how they will respond to their challenges, emanating from their true selves.
'Understand this: these are the qualities that you already embody... and that's what the world needs.'
'I can light a way - do you want to come with me? This is what leadership is.'
Learn more about Angela Browne's vision for education in Lighting the Way, her book on ethical leadership.

'I began to talk about the 'nourished school'... The pillars of the nourished school, I believed, were 'nourishment' through healthy food, a focus on the 'spiritual dimension' of the human being, 'time spent in nature' and the 'development of a craft'. These elements I saw as foundational and as contributory to the successful development of young people.'
In this scene from Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, students and teachers raise their wands together to light up the sky as a symbol of hope in the midst of darkness and grief. There is rarely a surplus of light - we all need to let our lights shine and together we can bring hope to our communities and to our world.
(Spoiler alert if you haven't read or seen the Half-blood Prince!)

A Prayer for School Leaders

Jesus - light of the world,
Lighten our way,
Guide us along the paths you have set before us,
Help us to see where we are going in dark times,
Enabling us to be fully who you made us to be.

We thank you that you delight in us - just as we are
We thank you that you made us to shine - just as we are
We thank you that you see and hear us - just as we are
We thank you that you say we are good enough - just as we are

May we dignify every student and adult for who they truly are
May we enable every one to flourish in their own way
May we ignite the spark in each individual, that they might shine
May we see them all as made in your image - unique and of so much worth

We ask for your comfort when the path ahead feels too tough
We ask for your rest when the journey is too long
We ask for your courage when leading ethically becomes costly
We ask for your light to direct us when we lose our way

Jesus - light of the world,
Lighten our way,
Guide us along the paths you have set before us,
Help us to see where we are going in dark times,
Enabling us to be fully who you made us to be.

Amen

Take a moment to listen to Sam Smith's hauntingly beautiful version of Fix You:
'Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones, and I will try to fix you.'
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