Our definition of an urban school
Our definition quickly goes beyond the obvious traits: high rates of poverty; diverse, multicultural populations; high rates of pupils whose first language is not English, to focus on what we believe to be the key characteristics of a successful urban school:
- an absolute commitment to social justice aligned with a strong notion of care;
- a leadership model which empowers, builds resilience and encourages everyone to take responsibility;
- an inclusive school culture that maintains the passion for teaching and high aspirations for all;
- an understanding of the community and what it means to be a young person within it;
- a curriculum fit for purpose that is steeped in enrichment experiences to enable young people to understand the world and the opportunities beyond their urban setting.
Clearly these traits are imperative for any school, however, we believe that in an urban context they are the defining ingredients to meet the needs of the pupils in these schools.
Within this definition it is apparent that existing discourse surrounding urban schools can be problematic. These schools are often described as ‘challenging’ schools. ‘Challenging’ can conjure up two very different pictures – something that is difficult, onerous or troublesome compared with something that is exhilarating, stimulating, inspiring. Our overriding principle for success is to perceive ‘challenging’ as positive and, at the heart of our approach to education, is a commitment to maintaining the passion and drive for taking up this challenge.