Coaching & Leadership Development
What Every School Leader Should Be Told About Change

What Every School Leader Should Be Told About Change

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional” – John Maxwell Change is all around us. It happens every second, every minute of our lives. Yet in spite of this, change is not something many of us are comfortable with. As a result, we so often miss the inherent opportunities for growth that accompany any change process. Within the context of school leadership, my belief is that the reason for this, is because very little if anything is done to prepare individuals for the emotional and psychological consequences of change. As a school leader, any change that you go through, particularly if you are at the forefront of the process, requires that you take stock of what the change process is asking of you. This is a necessary first step if you are to develop the wherewithal to manage it positively, not only for yourself, but also for those that you lead and manage. In my work with school leaders, I have come to realise that change is managed most positively when individuals understand that there are four distinct stages that they and their schools must successfully progress through. Each stage requires a deep level of self-awareness and emotional maturity to avoid the fight or flight syndrome, or remaining stuck in an unhealthy comfort zone.   The four stages are:   1. Letting go: This is the stage where you have to: – Recognise that some or all elements of the past have served their purpose – Overcome any feelings of resistance, that may be keeping you and others stuck – Recognise that you have a choice as to the mind-set...
Why Well-being is NOT a Side Issue in School Performance!

Why Well-being is NOT a Side Issue in School Performance!

    Increasingly the well-being of pupils is being given greater priority in our schools. With a growing number of teachers and school leaders recognising that investing in the well-being of our pupils can help secure a positive return on their attainment and, in turn, school performance.   This has in part been driven by numerous studies – not least by Public Health England in a 2014 report, which found that “pupils with better emotional well-being at age seven had a value-added key stage 2 score 2.46 points higher (equivalent to more than one term’s progress) than pupils with poorer emotional well-being”. Meanwhile, successfully attaining GCSEs (five or more A*-C) was shown to be strongly correlated with higher levels of life satisfaction amongst young people.   Whilst the findings of such reports have been widely accepted by schools, I can’t help but wonder why the fundamentals of well-being are so rarely considered when it comes to those who are responsible for teaching and leading our children.   Why the duty of care that we show towards our children is not extended as comprehensively as it should be towards our teachers and school leaders?   What we are neglecting to see, is that the capacity that educators have for bringing out the best in our children, cannot be sustained if their well-being is not made a priority. High levels of performance can only be maintained when our teachers and school leaders are given professional development opportunities that help them to:   – Deepen their self-understanding – Develop their emotional resources – Sustain a sense of purpose and vocation – Achieve greater...
What Every Headteacher should be told before they’re appointed!

What Every Headteacher should be told before they’re appointed!

Recently, I’ve been pondering one question: How do Headteachers find the time and space to develop the aptitudes necessary to show up as their true authentic and best self, when they are in a profession that requires;- – A deeply forensic approach to the analysis of pupil outcomes – Lightning quick responses to demands of all kinds and, – Consistently high levels of visibility   The answer I most often hear in response to this question, is:   ‘There quite simply isn’t enough time to focus on me. I spend all of my time and more [i.e. evenings and weekends] focusing on school improvement, because that’s what I’m here to do – to focus on the children and teachers, not me.”   When I hear this response, I find myself thinking, that sounds just like me when I was a Head. When I was told only one side of the School Leadership Story.   It’s all about the job description, or is it?   Before I was appointed to my first post as a Headteacher around seventeen years ago, I read and believed that I fully understood the Job description and person spec. I wrote an application form that demonstrated my leadership skills, knowledge and experience.   I performed so well at interview [despite being eight and a half months pregnant], that I convinced the panel, I could do what the job was asking of me on paper and take the school out of Special Measures…   And therein lies the rub. Did you fall for it too? Did you mistakenly believe that when you applied for the Head teacher role,...
The “Bigger Picture” Journey –  My Search for What Matters Most

The “Bigger Picture” Journey – My Search for What Matters Most

As you may or may not have been aware, over the last month, I have been undertaking something of an exploration, a journey into what it means to be a fulfilled school leader and teacher. I embarked on this journey at #PedagooHampshire16 with my talk on “Taking Care of the Soul in the Role”, in which I encouraged attendees to reflect on what matters most to us as educators. I posed some of the important questions which are integral to who we are, our sense of vocation and in turn, our renewal. Reflecting On #PedagooHampshire16   What happened next, I wasn’t in anyway prepared for. In my reflections in the days following, I realised that the very renewal that I was advocating as integral to our roles was on that day, exemplified in its purest form. With the affirming conversations, the environment of support and honesty, almost everyone who came that day was left feeling uplifted, instilled with new desire and reconnected with their passion for their roles. It really was just about everything that’s good and noble in our profession. When Did School Leadership Lose It’s Heart?   Yet, as the days passed, I was then left to question, why it was that the education system bizarrely seems to overlook the importance of renewal, support and nurturing. I questioned “When did School Leadership lose it’s heart and begin to hamper the growth of the human spirit?” I noted that as Parker J Palmer once said: “In our rush to reform education we have forgotten a simple truth; reform will never be achieved be renewing appropriations, restructuring schools, rewriting...