I came across a poem and the extended metaphor just struck a chord with me today, on Key Stage 2 SATs results day.I was once told that my job rested on that one set of results , that if they weren’t better than the year before I was done.

I cried with relief when I pressed the button, but realised that I had allowed myself to be squeezed relentlessly into a shape that could not seemingly glide into the form I was innately shaped to take and that aligned with my values and vision. My children and school mattered more that one year’s set of results – we had a much bigger purpose and that fuelled success on so many more levels, the deep and meaningful fulfillment and achievement in a broader sense that would sustain my children in their next steps in learning.

We are each so much  more than a set of numbers.

I don’t disagree that key skills matter, but for our 11 year olds to be shaped by such narrow margins, we’re missing the chance to allow their true form to be appreciated in all its artistic magic and to make a real difference  to how they see themselves as agents in their world .

This also follows for our schools .

If we get our clay centred on the wheel, and find the sweet spot that allows our clay to flourish under guiding, focused hands, then the beauty of our creation will shape and form. Each of our children and staff is a unique creation. The Potter’s wheel is the centralising purpose, but we can create vases, jugs, Freeform artistic pieces. Some will be functional, others will bloom into creative ornaments, and others..well who knows?

The point is, if we submit to fearful focus on a small data set, we’re missing so much potential with a narrow set of 3 numbers- and a label of met/ not met. How many find themselves unceremoniously dumped in the lack of potential pile and what is lost by doing so?

So many of us are arguing about Ofsted labels, but the running thread lies deeper in our system. What are the labels, the achievements we value and what do they form and create? What opportunities do they promise?

The Potter’s Wheel

Our past

fire turned to ashes

And we, alchemy at its best

transform to gold.

The heat

The hammering of parts that stick out

just a bit too far to be called beauty

Molded we are in earth’s turning hands

We all, on pottery wheel,



One hand comes upon us, a new shape takes form We spin, spin, spin More water of time added so we don’t harden, or worse, crack Not time for kiln yet – still being designed.

Moving in circles

Orbiting around us,

Those we love, like, dislike, don’t even know A stranger can come along, place a caress upon us Turn us faster, lift up a drooping edge While someone who claims to care can approach with a fist to flatten Or fingers to pinch, creating edges, lines that may need a smoother embrace.

We find ourselves in loving,

capable shaping hands once again

echo of past touch leaves a thumbprint,

Mark that may remain

a place that others will run through one day Life, that turning potter’s wheel.

Continue to move

Yes, fire can turn us

deeper into a solid shape

So that we may be painted, flowers gifted inside Or perhaps a pitcher to pour clear, clean water Set upon a beautiful table Serving loved ones that come to dine Oh the shapes we can take!

Perhaps you are a bowl,

collecting jewelry at day’s end

Or a jar, a jug, a pot for climbing ivy

a plate for mixed greens

All so different.

Cracks can become beauty,

unique qualities seen as divine

Where light can enter and water can trickle from – Never a flaw But a way out, through, in.

The spinning wheel

They say a potter throws her clay

Tosses it, and there it takes shape in air Wings spread out from vision of breath Wide Expansive light Alchemy at its best The wheel, the fire, the hands, all work together Turning clay into creation What will you become on this potter’s wheel of life?

Each of our children, our staff and our schools has the potential to fly on the wings of our vision. Is your overarching vision big enough? What are the opportunities and possibilities we want for our children?

When you press that button today, accept the information it gives you but consider it in the much wider context of your artistry.Your children, your staff , you and your school hold so much potential . What are the real milestones you want to value and celebrate?

If things go wonky, we discover other options, and may just create something new… what is the potential you hold in your hands?

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