The Conviction of Hope: Compassionate Leadership for School Belonging
In these strange, difficult and often dark times, schools stand at the centre of young people’s lives. Yet a school is just a building. What matters is what goes on inside: Is the school a place of belonging?
‘Belonging’ is that sense of being somewhere you can be confident you will fit in and feel safe in your identity. A feeling of being at home in a place. In schools where belonging works, more young people experience a sense of connectedness and friendship, perform better academically and come to believe in themselves. Their teachers also feel more professionally fulfilled and their families more accepted.
Whether a school becomes a place of belonging or a closed place where young people feel ostracised and staff unappreciated is down to the leadership. School leaders’ actions and inactions shape the culture of a school, determining whose voices are heard and whose overlooked. My question to you is: What can we learn from each other about how to create the conditions for school belonging?
Kathryn Riley is Professor of Urban Education at IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and co-founder of The Art of Possibilities. She is also an Associate of the Staff College.