Many books about education are purely utilitarian; you open them up in the hope of learning how to do something better. Whilst A School Built on Ethos offers plenty in this regard, it does much more besides too. Furthermore, there are sadly too few education books that work as a piece of literature; however, this book shares a narrative to savour and get lost within as James Handscombe takes you on a fascinating journey of how a school comes into being, in both a physical sense but also as something that transcends its bricks and mortar. It is also a delightfully funny read as James meanders from one digression to another in weaving his captivating story. The scripts of assemblies that pepper the book are particular high points and I turned the page on each one feeling enriched. They also beautifully illustrate the points made in each section of the book and enable you to see the author who walks his talk on a daily basis.
I adore A School Built on Ethos for many reasons. It is wonderful to read about school leadership from someone who clearly loves their job, their school and their students. And as well as giving many practical points on school leadership, James also sets out a clear case that a school is more than a building, a timetable and a budget; it is a community and one that needs an ethos to bring people together and give them a common purpose.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.