29 Mar

England's Youth

I’m minded to talk about Europe today. Don’t worry that dreaded Brexit won’t be mentioned. I was thinking about schools and our school in particular whilst watching England football team play on Friday evening and then again this last Monday.
For those who weren’t all over those stories, over two games, England scored 10 goals and conceded only one against the Czech Republic and Montenegro. The game in Montenegro created some very challenging headlines around the racism in certain parts of Europe and certain elements of football. It is far too depressing to discuss racism in 2019. It is incredible and appalling that this issue still remains in football and across communities at home and abroad.
It was the manner of the football and the policy taken by Gareth Southgate that interests me at this time. The manager (Gareth Southgate) has taken the decision to pick young exciting players and, more importantly, set out a strategy of free-flowing football. He has identified that these young players, when given their heads, will be able to produce outstanding displays of football and, as a consequence, have seen some real success in the European Championship qualifiers.
So what’s that got to do with the school - I can imagine you asking. Can I relate it to our approach to working with our pupils? We encourage our young people, our youth to give things a go. We encourage the pupils to share their ideas with their friends and peers. We have invested time in ‘playing exciting football’, or in our context, developing exciting lessons and we ask our children to be brave enough just to ‘give it a go’. I hope that the pupils, just as in the new England football set up, you can feel that the manager given them his full support and is encouraging them to be free-flowing, develop new and exciting ways of working and, hopefully, we’ll see similar results. For years England, as a football team, no matter how talented the individuals, seem to be have been hamstrung by a simple, prescriptive and ineffective game strategy. Now the shackles are off. They are encouraged to express themselves, try new things and give it a go. That’s what we want to encourage with our pupil body. We say: Go on, give it a go! Try something new! Take some risks! And you just might see the results shift.
I am encouraged and motivated by what the national football team have been able to produce in the past few months. I am encouraged and motivated by what we do day in and day out and the potential we have for developing this approach more fully in the coming weeks, months and into next year.
‘We’re a team, with our diversity and our youth, that represents modern England. In England, we have spent a bit of time being a bit lost as to what our modern identity is. I think we represent that modern identity and hopefully, people can connect with us.
Sometimes you have to go through difficult times as a team, and failures, to learn and to improve’
                                                                                                            Gareth Southgate