It is so easy to be distracted by the details of a development. But when people ask why a school is doing something, they expect a clear and boldly stated answer.
I witnessed Martin Hammond (Headmaster of Tonbridge, 1990-2005) handle this one with great flair. A group of 20 Japanese businessmen arrived at Tonbridge as part of a UK tour looking at our education system. Through an interpreter one asked what was the ultimate purpose of the school. Martin thought for a moment and then responded, ‘To give our pupils confidence.’ Lots of nods from the delegates and then a further question: ‘Do you have a formula?’ Martin paused and then said firmly, ‘Yes. E + O = C.’ He went on to explain: encouragement plus opportunity equals confidence.’
When raising funds for a development project it is usually the ‘O’ element of this formula that we are addressing. Teachers provide the encouragement, but they and the pupils need good facilities to provide the opportunities.
From time to time it helps to distil our arguments to this level of simplicity before we overlay all the detail.