“I delivered assemblies to all the houses last week and tried to reinforce my passion for aiming for a litter-free site. I have deliberately been out and about alongside other senior leaders since September picking up litter and engaging with students at lunchtime. The assemblies hopefully had more impact because I could hook into the fact that many of the students could acknowledge seeing me ‘putting my money where my mouth is’.
Conversations have ensued on the back of these with staff and students and they have confirmed to me that we must keep trying to wear down a common view. It’s true that litter is one of those topics which people feel we can never crack because it’s a question of care, habit and putting actions in place which will lead to permanent changes, and therefore requires a culture change and not a quick one to achieve. We can all find reasons why it is ‘fighting a losing battle’ because we see examples which support this theory every day, not only here at the academy but also outside in the community and wider. We know the routine of ‘The Big Clean Up’ is embedded in most local councils and the costs of cleaning the site after the Glastonbury Festival are well publicised, however, this is tackling the impact and not the cause.
The conversations I have had this week have been around the idea that ‘It’s not my job’ which is one of the excuses I referred to in my assembly. I have been really heartened to learn that this has resonated most with staff and students. Where would we be if we only ‘did our job’? I feel proud to be part of an academy community where this attitude is very much the minority and day-by-day there are examples from right across National which prove that our ethos is grounded in a selflessness of service and humility. We only need to take a look at the improvements in our library to see the embodiment of this ethos and as we head towards the pressure points this term we will all draw on these great attitudes.
Returning to the litter theme, it is most definitely worthwhile trying to change habits but not in a whining, moaning, blaming way. If modelling from us is to be successful then it has to be in a positive, cheerful, heartfelt way to get students’ attitudes to change. The ‘WeAct’ group joined me too in the assemblies and their input was critical because they proved that they did not need someone to ask them to care – they just do and they act on it. Thank goodness for ‘fighting a losing battle’ and the optimism of our students!”