Coaching & Leadership Development
Dear Headteachers…

Dear Headteachers…

  Dear Headteachers…   I know that every day, you take on a role that asks way more than many others could imagine. Every day, you give of your best so that our children can bring forth the promise that lies within them. Yet, I wonder, how often have you stopped to ask yourself;    “What of my promise, what of my gift to the world, who is that takes cares of and nurtures this for me?” If you grew up in the 70’s as I did, you may be familiar with a poem by Dorothy Law Nolte called Children Learn What They Live. It seemed to be a guide for parents, telling them how to be with their children so that that they grew into healthy fully functioning adults.   If you are unfamiliar with the poem, here it is:   If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight. If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive. If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves. If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy. If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy. If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty. If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence. If children live with tolerance, they learn patience. If children live with praise, they learn appreciation. If children live with acceptance, they learn to love. If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves. If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal. If children live with sharing, they learn generosity....
The 5 Myths of Being a Headteacher

The 5 Myths of Being a Headteacher

  Being a Head is one of those roles about which many myths abound. These myths arise primarily because we have all been to school. We have all seen Head teachers and education is rarely out of the news. As a result, a common narrative has been created about school life which is rarely questioned and many assume to be true.   Yet there are elements of this narrative that are not necessarily healthy, particularly in relation to the role of the head teacher. Which to a certain degree has been de-humanised by some of the prevailing myths about the profession.   If only more people knew the truth, they’d understand what else it is that Heads do to keep their schools running, to keep others happy and to ensure that above all else teaching and learning takes place in an environment in which all children can thrive.   So, in attempt to address this, here are some of the myths that need to be ‘busted’ for the sake of our Heads and for the sake of our schools…   1. Heads know everything   It is impossible for any one person to know everything! Yet, for some strange reason the title of Head teacher also seems to be synonymous for some, with the word ‘guru’. People expect that because you are the Head, you have the answers for everything; from how to unblock the toilets in the boy’s loos, to how to continue to raise standards and attract more pupils to your school, when your school budget’s in deficit and pupil numbers are falling.   Heads don’t know everything and...
Protecting the Mental Health of our School Leaders

Protecting the Mental Health of our School Leaders

  It is my belief that a truly compassionate and humane education system would recognise that every school leader is on a journey towards, what the American Psychologist Abraham Maslow termed, ‘Self Actualisation’.   An education system rooted in this belief would understand that if school leader are to fulfil their potential they need support that helps them to process the deep philosophical and psychological questions that often arise as they deal with the daily onslaught of challenges that their role brings.   Not recognising this, simply puts at risk the mental health of our nation’s school leaders and the health and happiness of those they lead and manage.   A system that truly cared for the mental health and well-being of its school leaders would not only dictate that Heads put in place well-being policies for their staff, it would also ensure that Governors, Trustees etc. put in place well-being polices for the Head.   These polices would not be perfunctory and put in place just as a matter of duty. They would be substantial. They would help school leaders to understand that there is inner work that must be done if their experience of school leadership is to be meaningful, fulfilling and If they are to remain mentally and emotionally well.   What should be the hallmarks of a Well-Being Policy for Heads?   The hallmarks of a well-being policy for Heads would enable them to:   – Talk about what they want as individuals – Explore and challenge issues related to their own identity and sense of self – Discuss issues related to the fulfilment of their own potential –...
How to rise above the pressures of OFSTED

How to rise above the pressures of OFSTED

    As a head teacher, you will know that when the prospect of an OFSTED inspection is looming, you and your staff can easily feel overwhelmed. It can seem as though there is never enough time to complete the endless list of pre-OFSTED tasks, that will enable you to feel prepared and in control should you receive The Call!   As a result, it may often feel as though your every waking moment is filled with thoughts of OFSTED and your nights are no better! Sleep seems to evade you and provides not the slightest hint of relief. When you close your eyes, you find your dreams invaded by your own anxieties about OFSTED and potential outcomes of their visit.   With the weight of OFSTED inspections and the related horror stories that abound, it’s easy to understand why inspite of recent ‘myth busting’ initiatives from OFSTED itself, that many head teachers still feel stressed and anxious in the lead up to an inspection.   The impact?   Sadly, this can mean that for more than a few they unconsciously adopt a fixed mind-set as a coping strategy. They become risk averse for fear of being proved wrong. Their creativity and ability to think outside of the box becomes severely limited too; as they rely more heavily on their left frontal part of their brain [the rational, logical, reasoning part] to carry out the leadership functions of their role.   In this ‘head space’, not only do leaders become detached from themselves and the promise of what their leadership could mean for them and their school, they also become detached from...
Why Headteachers Need to Take off their Leadership Mask

Why Headteachers Need to Take off their Leadership Mask

  Masks are worn to conceal the true identity of the wearer. In theatre and ceremony, they are explicit in both their form and function; in leadership, not so.   The mask that many School Leaders wear is far more subtle. It isn’t made of clay, paper or wood. It doesn’t have elaborate patterns or features painted across it. Instead it is invisible and rather than hiding the face – it hides your inner world of thoughts, feelings and emotions.   It is understandable as to why this is so. The mask acts as a defensive mechanism. It serves to keep us safe from situations or others that we perceive may cause us harm. However, left unchecked, our masks can sometimes cause us more harm than good and these are the times when we need to learn how to take them off and ask for help.   The Head Teacher’s Stage   It was in the 1960’s that the German psychologist Ervin Goffman equated human behaviour to that of living out one’s life on stage. His theory proposed that for all of our interactions we are trying to manage the response that we get from our audience.   The degree of intimacy and trust that exists between the performer and their audience will influence the performer’s stage performance.   Depending on the relationship, the performer will adapt their performance for each and every situation to try and win a favourable response from those who are observing.   Goffman proposes that the acts, the routines and the feedback that the performer receives are all part of how an individual develops...