The Importance of People in schools

By Graham Moore


Before I start excuse the numbers in this opening paragraph, I know it’s bad grammar, but I want to illustrate my point! The average secondary school has around 1,000 students with getting on for almost 100 staff with varying roles. That is 1,100 people bumping into each other, passing by each other, not noticing each other – every day! Each one of those human beings, young & old can therefore have 1,099 possible relationships with the rest of their community. This in turn means that the average school has the potential for its community to share 1,208,900 relationships!

The staggering reality of this fact is difficult to process initially because this number of relationships is improbable, unlikely, impractical, etc, etc. Consider this though, would it be useful, is it impossible, what would the advantages be of every person in a school having a positive relationship with every other person in that school? It is just not possible, there is not enough time, what about lessons? Schools are the number one ‘People’ business in society, nationally and globally.

Take your cynic’s glasses off for a second, forget everything you know about schools and teaching, and just for a second join me in reimagining what education could look and feel like. Having run literally hundreds of professional development workshops over the past twenty years, it never ceases to amaze me just how many teachers think that spending time reflecting on the importance of relationships is not a priority for them? Can you imagine what schools and their communities would be like if the central ethos was focused on loving, respectful relationships with every person?

Can you just for a second imagine the impact it would have on the self-esteem of students; on the mental health of our young people; on the job satisfaction of our school staff; on the incredibly positive impact this focus would eventually have on society? The implications are mind-blowing. Investing time, effort, love and creativity into creating a people centred curriculum that was supported by a professional infrastructure of training and development would in time save the NHS, the criminal justice system, the country as a whole billions of pounds.

Schools, teaching, education – whatever you want to call them are the biggest people business in the world. They are the foundation blocks on which our societies are built or at least could and should be. With the incredible strides made in science to understand the brain, neuroscience, detachment theories, child psychology, learning styles, cognitive development amongst the myriad of other astonishing discoveries, why oh why can we not spend more time in schools developing ‘people’ skills. Let’s eradicate the perception that these are ‘soft’ skills and teach communication, cooperation, collaboration and teamwork until the age of eighteen as avidly and as passionately as our Prime Minister wants us teach mathematics!

Can you imagine how our business leaders and communities would respond to generation after generation of emotionally literate, rational thinking, problem solving compassionate young people. The difference this type of applicant would make to our workplaces, industries and dare I say GNP? All of this is possible, trust me. We simply need to change our perspective and perceptions from what education is to what it could be. People matter.

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