Having been fortunate to spend the past few years visiting a range of schools, across the country, in very different circumstances, I have seen a similar ethos supporting schools to achieve even in the most challenging of circumstances. Trust and collaborative practice creates security. Security enables sometimes difficult decisions to be taken, in the knowledge that any fall out can be accommodated, without compromising the organisation as a whole.
An organisation that relies on creative partnerships and goodwill in order to develop requires a high level of trust. Trust costs nothing, but buys a great deal.
Believing reliability, conferred to another (trust with), safekeeping
Hope (polite) and reliance (trust in luck)
Predictability (trust them to…)
Derives from Old Norse, traust, traustr meaning strong.
Isaac Newton; I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
I trust that life is being kind to you and that you may have a few very pleasant and interesting diversions to look forward to at the end of the working week. The chances are that for many people the word hope will now replace the word trust in such a sentence, as the word trust in such use seems to have fallen out of favour. In many ways the word verity meaning truth, derived from French, has also fallen out of fashion. Where words fall out of use, perhaps it is possible for them also to lose some of their original meaning, as one person uses it, but another interprets it in a different form.
Yet trust, as an idea, and in reality, underpins all relationships, between close friends, work colleagues and very often passing relationships. You trust that you will receive the correct change from a shop.
Trust is the bedrock of reliability, security and stability.
Anton Chekhov; You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.
There is a trusting relationship between parents and children. In the first instance, the process is largely the child trusting the adults, but, gradually over time, the child has to be more entrusted with tasks whereby they prove their trustworthiness, building up a reserve which enables them to undertake task requiring greater trust. This might involve greater liberty, in distance or time away from home.
Of course there are many situations where children can’t, or don’t trust adults, based on the adult behaviour. Acts of cruelty, feeling let down in some way or insecurity is the easiest way to destroy trust.
It can be a bit chicken and egg at times, especially with younger children, who, often inadvertently, step over the supposed lines of trust and do things that need to be addressed. By discussion, rather than telling off, with the child being enabled to understand the adult concern, as well as the opportunity to tell their own story, can strengthen relationships. Trust is the essence of mutuality, the two sides of the relationship.
Ernest Hemingway; The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them
Trust is a constituent part of more distant relationships too. The Government and society puts its trust in the people who daily have the role of securing high quality education for children, or those who look after the sick. Without getting too political, it can often seem, with politician rhetoric, that public servants are not trusted. The problem with this message is that it can undermine the public trust in the system, and with it the individuals involved, leading to small, but sometimes significant levels of mistrust, with unintended consequences, such as parents giving their children negative messages about individual teacher or education as a whole.
Trust is embedded in teacher contracts and across the 2012 teaching standards, starting with professionalism (standard 8) and part 2, but is also implied across the others, with standard 2 based on progress and outcomes for all learners.
Outcomes are never quite good enough. There is always a call for doing better with less. We are entering a new phase in public life, where, embedded in current thinking is the belief that making expectations higher, and tests harder, will raise standards across the board. While this might have a marginal impact, there will still be a substantial group who will not reach the prescribed standard. If the system gets 80% of year 6 children to “above national standard”, the human system will have done well. To achieve the Government target of 85% will be exceptional achievement, but still leaves the lowest 15% “below standard”. Embedding such language, to my mind, undermines the need of education to maintain learner momentum at a very critical time, namely transfer to Secondary education. It will serve to diminish trust in the system.
I’d like to see the ideal of trust embedded in the next phase of education development, with clear indications that the system, as a whole as well as the individuals who do the day to day activities, is seen as capable of carrying out the duties prescribed to a quality that is high.
Dissemination of information has never been easier with electronic mail. Sharing high quality case studies (courtesy of HMI?) across the whole system would take no time and a national debate, based on the same information could be undertaken, through social media, blogging, teachmeets, collegiate staffrooms, local area discussions, all informed by the same material.
I trust the Government will do its best to secure the best interests of each and every child for whom it is responsible, by enabling teachers to do the best job that they can on a day to day basis.
At least I can hope…