In a world where we are told trust in institutions is heading rapidly downward and almost daily headlines show the reason for that, developing and maintaining trust is an important part of education, particularly independent education.
Definition: Trust is defined as to have confidence, faith or hope in someone or something. An example of trust is believing that the sun will rise in the morning. An example of trust is having faith that things will be better in the future.
For a start, trust is good for improving school performance.
Does a culture of trust enhance school performance? Recent research suggests that it does!
There is “ample if not overwhelming evidence” that a culture of trust enhances performance in schools.
- Trust permeates every structure and process in a school.
- One-off efforts to create trust are unlikely to succeed.
- Trust takes time to develop.
- The quality of relationships is central to the creation of trust.
- Trust will be lost very quickly if a leader is perceived to be incompetent.
Trust is not a simple thing and schools rely on a number of different forms of trust to operate at an optimum level:
School-Community Trust: The relationship of trust between parents based on common goals and expectations for student performance.
Teacher-Principal Trust: Based on personal integrity, commitment and honesty, creating a safe environment where staff can initiate and trial new ideas and practices.
Teacher-Teacher Trust: Teachers engaging in collaborative relationships, exchanging ideas, sharing knowledge and working together to improve professional practice.
Student-Teacher Trust: Trusting relationships between students and teachers support students’ engagement, wellbeing and identification with their school.
As an independent school, if our families do not trust us to deliver an education that is better or more suited to their values than a “free” school down the road, we have no future.
But there are other reasons why trust is so important.
We live in a world where royal commissions, constant revelations about aberrant and illegal behaviour in schools – historically and still extant – seem to appear daily.
In this world, trust is important because it allows students who feel at risk to speak up and have the expectation of being heard.
That, alone, makes maintaining trust worthwhile.