That’s the message coming from Oasis Academy Watermead’s new headteacher Adam Dawson as he looks forward to immersing himself fully into the role from September with his new leadership team.
Mr Dawson, who is currently Deputy Principal of Oasis Academy Fir Vale, was appointed to the role following the promotion of his predecessor to a regional role within the Oasis Community Learning multi-academy trust.
He will officially start at the Shirecliffe school at the beginning of the new academic year, but has already been visiting his new school regularly to greet parents and children – something he believes is vital for the role.
“I’m exceptionally excited to be moving to a new school, and really excited for the challenge ahead,” he said.
“I’ve been coming up, mainly on a Friday, and I’ve been out on the gate. I think it is really important to be a visible presence – knowing that families know who Mr Dawson is, that he is visible and you can speak to him about anything.
“I’m certainly not one to be hauled up in an office. I think that reassures staff that you have the right reasons for doing the job but also you’re working with children, it is about getting to know them, their names, what makes tick and what doesn’t.
“Definitely being visible will be a fundamental part of my role. Ultimately, I’ll be insisting that my other leaders in the school are out on the gate morning and afternoon as well.
“I think the sign of a good school would be that I can lead the school but also if I wasn’t here the school runs as it would be if I was.
“So, I would know that if I wasn’t in school my senior leadership team are out on the school gates welcoming parents. I know that I’d have my deputy for example out on playground duty.
“That is something I will certainly be striving for.”
Since qualifying as a teacher is 2009, Mr Dawson has worked across a number of key stages and roles in primary education and is hoping to put his expertise to good use at the already successful Watermead, which was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted inspectors in its first ever report.
Mr Dawson said: "I'm conscious of the school and their outstanding status and I will maintain that through hard work and dedication. I feel like I’ve acquired a lot of skills, lots of family skills, from Fir Vale which will put my in good stead for Watermead.”
“I know of the school working in the same academy trust. I've worked quite closely with a number of the teachers already whilst I've been at Fir Vale.
“I’ve worked with a number of them through moderation, assessing children's writing and striking up that partnership informally and impersonally but also professionally.
“For me it is about maintaining that outstanding but also more than just the word outstanding. It is about doing the right thing for the children and putting the child and the family at the centre of everything that we do, having the right purpose, the moral purpose for things.
“So, not just doing things because it looks good or it looks fancy and is a tick-box exercise for Ofsted.
“For me it is all about the rationale behind it, will it have any benefit for our children’s learning, and on them socially and emotionally, if so brilliant, if not then why not. It is that type of thing I will bring to the school.”
Mr Dawson has a clear vision for the academy – something something that impressed the panel during his interview.
He believes Watermead should be a a place where children feel safe and enjoy coming to school.
He added: “As an academy, we are an integral part of the local community – where we support families; we need to work together to improve outcomes for children and ensure they develop a resilience towards their learning and gain can do attitude where they are aspired to achieve and want to do well.
“I believe we should use our Hub and community engagement work to really improve life chances for our children and families.
“Obviously I also want to promote inclusion,” he added. “Our nine habits within Oasis Community Learning are really important and having that fundamental, working together approach across all three Sheffield schools I think would benefit all of our children.
“The Watermead Way is where we have that consistency in terms of approach so we have a specific marking policy, or a specific way of working with children and that all goes back to everything I have said about things being linked to our children – what best helps are children to learn and succeed and achieve. It is the way that helps our children and families engage with the learning and with the school.
“I am going to make little tweaks to that but certainly won’t be throwing that out everything and start a fresh. Ultimately it is about what is the right thing for our kids.”