A Head Full of Ethos: A holistic guide to developing and sustaining a positive school culture£18.99*
- Spread over 5 very informative chapters, Armando sets out the crucial steps that are required when working towards a positive school culture.
- The message throughout is of developing a school vision of which you are prepared to live within, cultivating members of the school community to follow a road map.
- The book strongly suggests that educators become familiar with child/adolescent developmental theories that helps understand the stage young people are at, and how educators can best support their needs.
- Each chapter is split into relevant ‘cogs’, helping the reader develop the road map advocated when working towards a sustainable culture that everyone becomes a part of.
- This is a great book, using experiences, developmental theories and positively strong leadership to nurture a school community where everyone can thrive.
When it comes to school improvement, a school ethos – and consistency in the vision of this ethos – is absolutely key. Curriculum models, pedagogy, teaching and learning are all equally important, but their development goes hand in hand with the more subjective aspects of a truly ethos-driven school improvement plan. When implemented well, a sustainable school ethos will become the bedrock on which a school inspires its students to flourish and its staff to grow professionally: the impact on staff wellbeing, behaviour and pupil outcomes is transformational.
Conversely, if there is no clear and consistent ethos within a school, it will feel disjointed and it will become an unhappy working environment for staff and students. Ultimately, this will be detrimental to both school improvement and student attainment. At worst, it can cause a school to dramatically fall apart as, sadly, Armando Di-Finizio, author of a new book called A Head Full of Ethos, has witnessed in the past.
Armando was a teacher for 34 years in a total of seven schools, almost half of this time as a head teacher. All bar one of these schools have been challenging inner city schools in areas of high deprivation. Under Armando’s leadership, all schools have achieved consistently improving results, a good Ofsted inspection and very few, if any, fixed-term exclusions. Each school under his leadership has become oversubscribed.
“The further I have progressed into school leadership, the more conscious I have become of how influential school leaders at all levels are in setting the tone for their school and, in turn, defining its general state of health and effectiveness.”
Ethos, defined by Armando as “the spirit and driving force behind every good school”, is the manifestation of a school’s vision and its underpinning principles. It should enable every student who passes through the school to grow and develop before going on, hopefully, to flourish in life – providing the ethos is a positive one that encourages development and growth. The principles supporting the ethos of a school cannot be ignored, and it is on this premise that Armando set about writing his book on leadership and school improvement.
“Reflecting on my three headships, I have come to realise that in each school I have focused primarily on four aspects of ethos. Each of these forms a chapter in this book: insightful leadership; vision, purpose and direction; care and positive relationships; and belonging and inclusiveness. Yes, I have worked hard to develop the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom, but these four foundations of ethos are where real and lasting change can happen in a whole school and to all the students. Without these four focal points, fantastic teaching and learning may exist in the school but the children are hostages to fortune. They are dependent on the attributes of their teachers, and not everyone will be guaranteed the same quality of experience in all facets of their school life.”
The book explores the elements of school improvement that have worked for Armando – as well as some that haven’t – which have enabled him to produce long-lasting results for the benefit not only of all the children within a school’s care, but also the teachers working within them.
*RRP – Price correct at time of review publication.