This week seems to have been a procession of meetings for me. With the end of the academic year in sight we are shoehorning committee meetings into the last few weeks of term. I therefore, jumped at the chance to get out of the office. My termly meetings with Martin Post, the Regional Schools’ Commissioner take place at the Department for Education in Sanctuary Buildings, Westminster. This then enables me to take in a play in the evening prior to making the journey back to Oxford. On Monday my cultural path took me to the Gielgud Theatre and a production of an American play, ‘Sweat’. The drama is set at the turn of the millennium and is both an arresting and controversial piece of theatre. Certainly, I was challenged by the content and message and wondered how Donald Trump would have responded had he been in the audience. Later in the week, I took in the production of ‘The Turn of the Screw’ currently running at the Oxford Playhouse. Despite being a gothic noir thriller designed to shock its audience, for me it didn’t possess anything like the power of ‘Sweat’. My view is that this was down to the context of the play’s setting and the relevance of the drama to our current situation as a society.

My professional experiences this week have reaffirmed the view that knowledge of context is key to addressing any situation. What may work in one school as a mode of approach to support for improvement, may not have the same impact in another. Indeed, adopting a ‘copy and paste’ approach may be damaging and counter-productive. In our work with schools, therefore we seek to understand the context before acting. In doing so we aim to ensure that what we do in support of our schools is informed and appropriate and makes a difference to the outcome. If only my batting on the cricket pitch could be the same.

‘Till next week.
Tony