Coaching & Leadership Development
The 4 Signs You Don’t Have a Work-Life Balance

The 4 Signs You Don’t Have a Work-Life Balance

  I have a question for you … to what extent does your life as a school leader reflect the statement below?    “School Leadership is a 60+ hour a week job. If you are to survive and succeed, it is a role that requires all of you, even if that means sacrificing any hope of a work-life balance and having to devote less time to other aspects of your life.”   I ask this question, because day after day, I see many school leaders living their life from this premise and I see the way in which it damages their sense of agency and ability to change their work life balance for the better.   Living life as a school leader from this premise overlooks the deep interconnection that exists between our emotional and professional lives.   What needs to be understood is that when we neglect important needs and areas of our lives in favour of our role, there is almost always a cost to our behaviour, health, passion and happiness.  Crucially, this will almost always end up affecting our professional lives and the way we lead our schools.   Tragically, many school leaders do not challenge this premise and have learned to normalise self-sacrificial ways of being. The disillusionment, ill-health and disconnection with their original passion and purpose are not seen as warning signs that things need to change, but become accepted as a normal part of the job.   This has to change. We need vital, connected, passionate, healthy and happy school leaders, who are alert to the signs of an unhealthy work-life balance and are prepared to do...
The Importance of Following Your Vision – Alison Kriel

The Importance of Following Your Vision – Alison Kriel

This blog comes from the Headteacher of Northwold Primary School and “Education for the Soul” 2017 Facilitator, Alison Kriel.   Teaching is what the women do in my family. As a child I decided I wanted to be different but there’s something about the calling that comes from deep within and my passion and respect for the profession has never wavered.   Over the time, I have been in education – I have been inspired by some wonderful leaders that have believed in me and who had a deep belief in their own vision and did what was necessary to see it through.   From the outset I loved inner city teaching – the diversity and the challenge. I started off my career as a Year 2 teacher in Hackney. Our Head at the time was working towards a vision of an outward looking, inclusive and supportive school. While I was there, all the staff and myself felt valued and everyone felt welcome. However, there was a couple of occasions that really stood out to me and have inspired me in becoming the leader I am today.   One morning whilst doing the register a pupil responded to me by saying, “Good morning Blackie”. As soon as I mentioned it to the Headteacher, she gave up the rest of her day to lead an impromptu art lesson with me and my class, doing self-portraits, showing the children how to mix skin colours and talking about her experiences of growing up as a child in France during the Nazi occupation.   It was a mastery lesson in how to help children...
Why we need Vulnerable School Leaders

Why we need Vulnerable School Leaders

  Recently, I have increasingly found myself reflecting on what it takes for school leaders today to be courageous. In a system that has increasingly become dominated by a culture of bullying and fear. I have come to the conclusion that two of the most courageous things  head teachers and school leaders can say are:   “I am human and I have needs that need to be met, the same as everyone else”.   “Yes, I have a dream, a vision that I want to see fulfilled for the children in my school, but sometimes the path towards the fulfilment of the dream is laboured and sometimes it hurts.”   When head teachers and school leaders are honest about ‘the pain’ of school leadership they allow themselves to see that school development is as much to do with emotional development [theirs and others] as it is to do with the strategic and operational aspects of leading a school.   Recognising your own vulnerability   It is about recognising one’s own vulnerability and in the words of best-selling author Brene Brown it is recognising that.   “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weaknesses”   One head teacher that I work with accurately summed up the meaning of Brown’s quote for her as a school leader when she said to me:   “ Viv this job is tough. Every day I have to make courageous decisions. But in order to strengthen my ability to makes those decisions. I have to face my fears, my own vulnerabilities with you first....
The 5 Attributes of Wise School Leadership

The 5 Attributes of Wise School Leadership

This Blog comes from an ex-secondary Headteacher, trainee therapist and Integrity Coaching Associate, Tim Small.   When I started teaching in the 1970s, the job of school leadership seemed mostly concerned with preserving stability.  Headship was about ‘running a tight ship’ and keeping people happy and harmonious in their jobs.    The language of ‘innovation’, ‘progress targets’ and even ‘professional development’ was regarded with suspicion by many of my colleagues, who resisted encroachment into the small world of education by what they called ‘management speak’.   That was before the profile was raised by the ‘Great Education Debate’ and subsequent politicisation, leading to the Education Reform Act of 1988.  At a stroke, market principles were introduced into the schools system and power was shifted away from local authorities in favour of schools and central government, giving the Secretary of State the powers to specify attainment targets for each subject in the new curriculum.   From that time onwards, the job of school leadership became focussed on managing change for continuous improvement.  No one could stand still any more.   Nearly thirty years on, the pace of change has accelerated and, with it, the danger of ‘treadmill vertigo’: a mixture of blind panic and fear of stepping off.  Extraordinary progress has been accomplished but no one has time to enjoy it or even account for it properly and it has become harder to sustain.   But how do you survive in this education system which operates at such a high pace of change? Well, I believe there are five key attributes of wise leadership that can help you do this…  ...
How does Coaching support great leadership?

How does Coaching support great leadership?

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance.” Sir John Whitmore, ‘Coaching for Performance’, 1996   A coaching relationship, first and foremost, seeks to create a unique and supportive space whereby individuals can find their own solutions, develop their own skills and change their own behaviours and attitudes.   Beyond this basic premise, there are all kinds of different approaches to coaching, and each coach works a little differently.   But what does a coaching relationship look like and why is it so vital in the context of School Leadership?   1. Someone who cares about you and your Well-being   The demands upon Head Teachers and senior school leaders have increased like never before. Whilst you are at the centre of creating new and emboldened futures for our young people, you do so with constantly growing levels of personal accountability and public scrutiny.   Amidst this, School Leaders today need forms of support that can help them build their resilience and protect their emotional and psychological well-being. As after all, it is only when our own needs have been met, that we are able to effectively meet the needs of others.   Coaching is a unique form of support that focusses on you, not just as a leader, but also as a human being. An outstanding coach will recognise this and help you to make your well-being a priority. He/she will help you to make real lasting changes to your life, beliefs and ways of thinking and being as a School Leader, so that your reality of the role becomes more successful, sustainable and joyful. 2. Someone who has absolutely no agenda but yours.   If...