On the week when the England men's football team progressed to the final of a major tournament for the first time since 1966, it seems appropriate to write about leadership, determination and winning.
Gareth Southgate's leadership style is complex. He is clearly capable of nurturing his players and creating a culture whereby they trust him and each other. Whoever he chooses seem to understand their roles and responsibilities and even when they are on the bench, they know they may have a pivotal role to play. Credit to Jack Grealish. Subbed on to give the midfield some creative spark and later subbed off again to make way for a more defensive player to protect the lead. No moans or groans from Grealish. He had played his part and he trusted his manager to make the right decision for the team. It can't have been easy to re-take his place on the bench but he did so with dignity and with the respect of the nation. Southgate is not just a nurturing leader, he has mental toughness. If he didn't, he would have kept Grealish on and asked him to adapt his game and that could have gone horribly wrong. Leadership takes courage and Gareth Southgate is certainly courageous, there is no doubt about that. Let's hope the team are courageous today too. If they are, with a little bit of luck, football will indeed be coming home.
At LECA we love developing leaders. The PE department have leadership modules throughout their Key Stage 3 and 4 curriculums; the prefects and student council lead by exhibiting our core INSPIRED values every day; subject leaders have also been invited to apply for positions of responsibility in their favourite subjects. The highlight of my week was when Sky applied for a subject leader position in Spanish... in Spanish! That was a first for the subject leader programme as far as I'm aware. Well done Sky - that really was fantastic to see. Thank you to Mrs Eastham for leading all of the student leadership initiatives - the badges are being worn with pride and I know there is plenty more coming in the new academic year with more badges and lots more rewards for being INSPIRED.
With determination, we again look to our England manager. What determination must it have taken for him to come back from missing a semi final penalty for England against Germany in 1996. How must he have felt when the draw opened up and it was clear England would have to beat Germany to progress? He talked publicly about the past being the past but deep inside there must have been some steely determination to put that penalty miss to bed once and for all. He certainly did that. Gary Lineker once said: 'Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.' Not this time Gary! Our students show just the same determination every day. They all fail every day and they all try again, no matter how hard it might be. Some of them have more determination than others but they all succeed in their own way, in the end.
Vince Lombardi, probably the greatest American Football head coach of all time, once said: 'If it doesn't matter who wins or loses, why do we keep score?' I totally agree. Sport is about winning. Yes it's about getting active and teamwork and leadership and all of those essential life skills but ultimately, and certainly at elite level, it's about winning; being the best. Ask anyone who's ever lost a match in any sport how it felt. They never say it's the taking part that counts! Other people might do, but they don't. At LECA, like all other schools, winning is many-faceted. It might be at sport but it's also in the classroom. All we ask is that our students apply our INSPIRED values every day to create winning conditions. That starts with punctuality and being ready to learn in the morning, and must then be embedded in 100% effort, every lesson. These conditions take no talent; just effort and determination and the will to be a winner.
Good luck England - the nation is behind you. Haven't you heard...
Head of School, LECA