Hard Work

Trinity Chapeltown – Keep Things Simple

At Dixons Trinity Chapeltown, we like to keep things simple. The way we do things in school will not be particularly revolutionary, but we will make sure that we do the simple things really well. Children thrive when they feel safe and children feel safe when they know what to expect. By keeping expectations clear and simple, we ensure that children know what the boundaries are and know what they are supposed to be doing and when.

Keeping expectations simple does not stop them being high. The best schools have the highest expectations of their students. Through hard work and perseverance, every child can achieve.   Our core values of hard work, trust and fairness are communicated through everything that we do in school.  Even the youngest children have a deep understanding that they can rely on their teachers to support them in all their hard work.

Justine Oldham
Primary Principal, Dixons Trinity Chapeltown

Mission Mapping (i)

Mission Map 1Crafting school culture begins with the mission of the school; it is the sky that generates the daily climate, it should be what we can all see and feel no matter where we are in the organisation or who we are talking to. Families and visitors should feel its warmth every time they are with us. It is our mission, it is our sky; we decide that the sun should always shine.

Mission Map 2

Beneath the mission, the values sit; they should form the absolute predisposition of the school. Each value should support the mission and be purposefully tied to the culture of the organisation transcending any structures or roles within it. Leaders, staff and students should adhere to the same values and thus, the same behaviours. At Trinity, we have three core values; we understand the power of three and use this across our organisation: three core values; three features of a lesson; three cycles every year.

Mission Map 3

The values are defined with razor-sharp clarity and we return to these words every day. Recently, we filmed our students talking about what our values mean to them – without scripts. Even though they were talking about wholly personal experiences of the values in action, we were fascinated to hear them return, unprompted, to the exact language of the definitions, casually dropping the phrases into their conversational speech. This language is alive in our school because we live it.

Mission Map 4

The values are made real through our daily actions – on the middle floor of the building a whole wall is dedicated to a sign that states: actions speak louder than words. For this to be more than decoration, we have to ensure our values are made manifest through daily artefacts. These are the rituals and routines, the language, stories and heroes of our organisation.

Mission Map 5

An example of this mapping would be going from our mission…

“The academy ensured that all students succeeded at university, or a real alternative, thrived in a top job and had a great life.”

…to the value of Hard Work. It is indisputable that the mission will only be realisable with the value of hard work applied every day. Just telling our students to work hard (even with the razor-sharp definition) would be ineffective – maybe even cruel. Our students deserve to be supported through our artefacts, we design them; we show them exactly what we mean by hard work so they are facilitated to succeed. We tell them what the right thing to do is and we show them how to do it. One artefact that exists in the school as a daily routine is our No Hands Up policy. This means that questions at Trinity are directed by the teacher to a specific student – but the routine is key. As a staff, we practise this regularly to make sure we get it right. Ask the question, pause; allow all students time to think, then direct the question to a student by name. If the teacher wants to litmus test the class by asking a student by random selection, the name can be drawn from the class set of named lollipop sticks.

This routine ensures every student knows that every question is their responsibility, they can be called upon at any point. At Trinity, there is no slackening off, learning opportunities are maximised for every student. Committing to an artefact means seeing it through, in this case, that means staff training, coaching, practice; it means administrative support to ensure the class sets of lollipop sticks are ready for the teachers; it means everyone doing it all of the time.

A question being directed, a lollipop stick, these are mission made manifest.

Values Driven

Hard work, trust and fairness

Our values permeate all that we do; they are not a gimmick and so much more than a strapline. They form the strategy to deliver our mission and are the backbone of every conversation we have with students. Our culture is mission-mapped (we will talk through this in a future blog), the values support the mission and the behaviour is derived from the values. At Trinity, our values are the same for the leadership, for all staff and for all students; we are all held accountable for upholding our values at all times, whether through our behaviour routines or our performance management. Our values are underpinned by the growth mindset we foster across the school which, again, we will come back to in a future blog.

We share our values like a common language, it is a way of being on the team. Lots of organisations get this wrong maybe because of the confusion that can emerge from the different types of values that exist within any structure. In ‘The Advantage’, Lencioni defines the range of possible values to generate clarity around what a core value really is. Core values are the two or three traits absolutely inherent to an organisation; they do not change over time and, in the hiring process, we should not be looking for employees who agree with the core values, but those with a predisposition for them. Aspirational values are what an organisation wishes it had; they require what Lencioni surgically calls ‘purposeful insertion’. Permission to play values are the minimum standard of behaviour expectations; they are generic things that are likely to be needed in any organisation. In other words, the core values should be more apparent in your organisation than a different organisation with different core values. If not, they aren’t your real core values.

Ours set a very high bar:

Hard Work
We never give up. We remain positive so that we have the strength to persevere with even the hardest work. We do what it takes for as long as it takes.

Trust
We are honest. We do what we say we’ll do and do not make excuses. We are loyal and have the courage to do the right thing.

Fairness
We play by the rules. We are respectful, polite and courteous at all times. We don’t take advantage of others and helping a member of our team is helping ourselves.

Our students need to work hard to overcome the disadvantages society will try to impose upon them; we need to make explicit to them just what hard work means. We use the metaphor of climbing a mountain to share this value with our students; we tell them that university is the top of the mountain they are climbing every day. To help this vision come off the walls and be more than rhetoric, before our students even start at Trinity, we take them to Leeds University to show them their future. Then, we take them to the Lake District in the first term of Y7 and climb a real mountain – every one of us. Hard work permeates so many of our decisions at Trinity, our no-hands-up expectation ensures all students work hard at all times, everyone ready to answer, no one opting out. We use DIRT to ensure that feedback is acted upon, there can be no lazy response if we each are going to climb our own mountain. If any student requires intervention, Morning Mastery sessions are scheduled from 7.30-8.00 am every day; we all work hard, we do whatever it takes.

At Trinity, we do the right thing because it is the right thing to do; part of being able to trust each other is being able to take responsibility when we make mistakes. Trust comes in the growth mindset of seeing mistakes as part of future success, in committing to this, we commit to a no grudges culture. Students can trust staff to deliver recurring forgiveness and staff can trust students to learn from mistakes. We have a no excuses culture.

To enable every one of us to live our mission, we must be rigorously fair, that means we must all commit to being on task each and every day. If we do this, we are playing by the rules which means students can learn and teachers can teach. Every student knows that team beats individual and that it is never fair to disrupt the learning of others. We over-rationalise everything to staff, to students and to our families – this is not a carrot and stick environment, we expect so much more than that. It is only fair that, given our high expectations, everyone understands the purpose to all actions. We have silent corridors to ensure our transitions are safe and orderly, conducted with pace and purpose. This means that all students can get to lesson on time and support one another; we know how to be fair.

Our values make real our mission – without them, we would still be struggling to basecamp.

Jenny Thompson
Head of Secondary