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Fostering a culture of collaboration

Published on 02/03/20

Relationships * Team building * Selflessness * Team work * Leadership * Participation    Readiness to compromise * Collaboration

I am charmed at the moment by the emerging speech of my young grandson. He melts our hearts with his love of ‘Patter’ (the Hungry Caterpillar) and delights us with his charming ’yes peas’. These childish slips of tongue can become part of a family’s vocabulary, with ‘fairy boats’, as named by our youngest daughter, still referred to as such by any of our children crossing the channel in these vessels. These are, of course, mistakes, yet ones which are to be embraced positively, even celebrated, in the overall contribution that they make to a toddler’s eventual mastery of language.

Schools are at heart people-based organisations, built around teams of adults and children. The relationships within them, the teams that exist and the leaders that guide those teams are fundamental to the culture of a school. A parent visiting the school recently said to me that he was constantly amazed by how many new things children have to embrace, and how daunting he would find this as an adult. Mistakes tend to happen when new challenges are faced or when any of us, adult or child, take on something new for the first time. These mistakes are unlikely to be deliberate and more likely to be the consequence of refining how to go about best responding to a new challenge.

In building a collaborative culture, where adults and children alike flourish, we must be prepared to recognise that when mastering new skills, there may be moments of frustration, misinterpretation and mistakes. Unpicking errors, learning from them and being prepared to support one another creates a shared understanding of what we are trying to achieve.

Recognising the importance of teamwork, Google launched Project Aristotle to maximise their effectiveness in this aspect of their organisation. Their conclusion was that the best teams are mindful that all members should contribute to the conversation equally, and respect one another's emotions. They found that success had less to do with who is in a team, and more with how the members cooperate with one another, a practice that we certainly encourage within school.

Indeed, at Claremont Fan Court, we encourage behaviours that equip all our teams to strive beyond the procedural or regular, to take the playful or creative risks that allow their intelligence to flourish and their ideas to grow. By fostering a culture of collaboration and discussion as mistakes occur, we encourage our children to move forward with, as my grandson might say, a positive ‘fank yoo’  as they embrace the challenges before them.


Mrs Helen Hutton-Attenborough
Head of Preparatory School