Do we need to know what ‘they’ are saying?

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Bletchley Park is becoming a bit of a cultural icon these days. Royal visits, exciting television detective dramas and a role in more than one blockbuster. It is most famous for breaking the Enigma code. While important it was one of many successful decoding operations that gave the Allies vital information about the actions, responses and intentions of Axis forces. It also raised some serious moral dilemmas. The British government was able to appreciate in full the horrors being perpetrated in the death camps long before the end of the war in Europe. However, to raise the matter in an international forum, to using bombing raids to disrupt the transportation of the intended victims, or the skewing of military activities to liberate the sites as rapidly as possible would all have revealed the extent to which supposedly secret information was known. Rightly or wrongly, the decision was made to hide the extent of our knowledge.

 

In conversation with head teachers and other senior leaders I have become aware, on several occasions, that they peer in to social medium forums in order to track what is being written about their school. In many cases those senior leaders are using an alias to hide their real identity. Is it worth it? Does knowing that a parent has sounded off about the school being closed because of snow, or that results were down a little this year, or that the parking situation is a living hell at 3:15 make any difference? Should it?

 

Francis Bacon is famous for the maxim that knowledge is power. More than four hundred years on it might be worth reflecting that for school leaders, knowledge is power only when it leads to action; otherwise it's just a burden.

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