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At Dixons Music Primary, we have tried to take the best ideas from academies, schools, the independent sector and abroad. No individual element of our practice is revolutionary. Others have said that it is the way in which ideas have been combined and embedded with rigour and simplicity that has allowed us to make such a strong start. We don’t believe in off-the-shelf strategies or practices; there is no silver bullet. It is really about being values driven, having clear vision, focusing relentlessly on results, operating strict routines, doing the simple things well every day, and building strong relationships at all levels.
Our ‘no excuses’ approach instils strong learning habits ultimately helping students become better qualified, more successful and happier. We expect students to follow homework and equipment rules, wear uniform with pride and always be ‘on task’, fully engaged and ready to learn.
Those who have visited our schools have recognised that our structures liberate teachers to teach and students to learn – because students know why we do things, they buy into them.
In our achievement-oriented culture, it is cool to be smart, and all students work hard to climb the mountain to university or a real alternative.
We have no doubt that the achievement-oriented culture at Dixons Music Primary is the main driver of our success. As Peter Drucker says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Of course, no school is better than the quality of its teachers; however, there is only so much that even the best teacher can do with students who have low aspirations and poor learning habits. Conversely, create a truly aspirational culture with extremely high expectations and all teachers can secure exceptional outcomes for all students. What we have learnt from the best schools is the power of a vision-led culture – it is not a means to an end, but an end in itself.
Being wholly committed to our mission is not that intellectually sophisticated, it is just common sense and we, as a team, need to have the persistence and humility to return to it every day; to sustain our routines and live our values over and over – the humility to commit is critical.