One of the key goals of any MAT must be to build a genuine sense of community. When visiting schools many people comment on the “feeling” they get when walking around the building. This is something we genuinely value at DMAT.
There is very little tangible evidence about what makes a school “feel good” to be part of/present in, however when it works we can feel it working. Across the last couple of years a key goal of our schools has been to create more of a team ethos within our community. We have done this through organising a variety of activities and events which have focused on creating opportunities for more shared time and teamwork between staff and the students. We have concentrated on how, through predominately (but not exclusively) physical activity, we can break down barriers between staff & students and other groups such as parents/carers and governors.
A key focus of each activity has been to generate a greater sense of reciprocity through taking part in the events and challenges. Whilst some of this has been focused on raising money, for a range of different charities (we have, over the last year raised well over £10,000 for a variety of local, national and international causes), other activities have been about making a difference in other ways. Yes, our events have taken time to mobilise and get everyone on board with, however it is genuinely true that with the drive and enthusiasm from a team of dedicated staff (and commitment from the very top of the school to support and be involved) anything is possible!
Across the last 12 months we have organised the following events:
- Whole school sponsored walk in aid of Chestnut Tree House
- Year 7 inter-class mud run (tutors & their tutees)
- Staff “Great Durrington Cake Off” – in aid of Samaritans
- Whole school, staff, parents/carers and governors Pole2Pole challenge – we walked/jogged/ran an amazing total of 15,454km in a week of school (before school, breaks, lunchtimes and after school) on a track we set up on our field
- 310 year 7-10 girls and 25 female staff running the Race for Life (the biggest single team entry ever!) raising over £6,000
- Year 11 stress buster mud run – offsite day of mud running and fun with 28 staff and over 100 year 11 students to de-stress them (and the staff) before their exams
- Giving the gift or words – a whole school, inter-tutor group based book donation project giving books to Africa, local refuges and charities and into local primary schools with high levels of deprivation (in total over 8000 books were donated – a phenomenal achievement).
- The Laurels Primary School took part in the children’s parade, invited the community to their summer fair, performed at the local theatre, held a sports day for parents to attend and hosted a Sport Relief Mile involving parents and students from Durrington High.
Just a handful of staff have crated, organised and driven all of these highly successful events. Across our community so many people have commented on how the positive culture and as new events have been launched, more and more students and staff have wanted to get involved. We have been able to create a really strong culture with many people asking “what’s the next event?” and looking forward to seeing how we can continue to make our challenges bigger and better -ultimately with the aim of strengthening our community further.
Chris Woodcock, Head of School, Durrington High School