Coaching & Leadership Development
“Education for the Soul” – Conference Report

“Education for the Soul” – Conference Report

What was our Conference Mission?   On the 19th October 2017, Head teachers & School Leaders from across the country joined us for our Inaugural “Education for the Soul” Conference. Our purpose was to provide a different type of school leadership conference; one that would provide a space for school leaders to explore new and sustainable ways of leading that would enable them to overcome the stresses of their roles and maintain their ability to lead and inspire others.   Unlike other School Leadership conferences, the day aimed to provide a unique opportunity and space for…   Reflection – Where leaders could be themselves and reflect with like-minded colleagues on the aspects of school leadership that mattered most to them   Learning – Where leaders could deepen their personal knowledge and gain a better understanding of how wellbeing contributes to personal performance and school outcomes.   Creativity – Where leaders could explore solutions, practical ideas and suggestions for bringing their visions to life   Collegiality – Where leaders could laugh, share and have time to talk with others about how to achieve the very best for themselves and those they lead and manage What did the Day involve?   The day was a very special one and had a very different tone from traditional education conferences. It was clear right from the very start that individuals were turning up as ‘themselves’ and not as their roles. For me personally, it was deeply humbling to see so many school leaders and education professionals who were prepared to:   – Take a risk – Ask of themselves challenging questions – Think about school leadership differently – Go on a deeper learning journey...
Why our Schools Need Human Connection

Why our Schools Need Human Connection

Today’s blog comes from CEO and founder of the Amaya Trust, Alison Kriel.     I have always believed that schools are about people and human connection.  I remember my very best teachers.  I have fond memories of a maths teacher, Mrs Wood.  We had just moved from Northern Ireland to the outskirts of an English garrison town during a time when anti-Irish feeling was at an all-time high.  My mum insisted that I go in my old school uniform on my first day.   So there I was in my formal, Girls Grammar School bottle green pinafore (with matching green regulation bloomers), striped shirt and blazer thrown into the depths of what seemed like a huge, dysfunctional co-ed packed with noisy pupils, who flaunted all uniform rules and seem to have no desire to learn.  I’d just left a school where academic success was the only option to an environment where teachers cajoled the students to learn with patience and good humour.   There was one black pupil in the school, ‘Chalkie’, who used her self-disparaging humour to keep safe.  So there I was, ‘Grammar School Girl’, quiet, black with an Irish accent, unable to laugh at racist jokes, and who went to school to learn.  I didn’t belong. Mrs Wood saw my vulnerability and reached out to make a deeper connection with me and helped me to understand that yes I did look and sound different but what was unsettling the group was that I was in a minority and challenging the perceptions of majority.  And of course, with her support, I settled, made friends and then got...
Can we reconcile Accountability with Humanity?

Can we reconcile Accountability with Humanity?

This Blog comes from an ex-secondary Headteacher, trainee therapist and Integrity Coaching Associate, Tim Small.     I hear and have sympathy with many complaints about the accountability system for schools in England and Wales.    They echo around our professional community: …encourages teaching to the test…; the stress of SATs…’ OFSTED paralysis…; the ‘assessment tail wagging the curriculum dog’…; you don’t fatten a pig by weighing it…   Most serious are the arguments about de-humanisation and the ‘factory culture’: if young people are only equipped to (i) assimilate, store and regurgitate information and (ii) practise easily assessable skills, whenever will they learn to know and express themselves fully and understand each other?  How will they be enabled to navigate their unpredictable futures and turn challenges into opportunities?   It’s important to recognise is that these are not arguments against accountability.  As long as education costs money (and I’d like it to cost a lot more than it currently does) then those who ‘deliver’ it must always, of course, be accountable to those who pay for it.  Many of us are on both sides of that fence.  Accountability is an essential, not an evil!   The problem lies in how accountability is interpreted, both by educators and policy makers.  There is something seriously wrong when certain symptoms become prevalent.  Here are three examples:   – When students whose progress is not critical to the data analysis receive much less attention than those whose results are of tactical or statistical importance; – When teachers spend more time processing data than designing optimal learning experiences; – When creativity, imagination and risk-taking...
7 Ways to Bring the Humanity back to our Education System

7 Ways to Bring the Humanity back to our Education System

    Education has and always will be my ‘first love’. Although I didn’t have the best experience of school growing up, l fell in love with education when I became a teacher and witnessed first-hand the difference my passion and commitment made to the children in my class. I loved it then and I still love it now. Even though, three decades on, so much has changed.   Yet, I know there are many in the profession, particularly school leaders, who struggle to keep the connection to their original passion and commitment. It is not their fault. Over the years, with a succession of educational directives, teachers and school leaders have found themselves caught in the middle of a political battlefield; where humanity has been sacrificed for the sake of political ideology.   If our teachers and school leaders are to re-claim their commitment, passion and sense of vocation, then our education system has to start really engaging with those on the ground. They must be listened to. Trust has to be re-built and ways have to be found to re-humanise the way in which our school leaders are supported to raise and maintain high standards across our schools.   Change won’t happen overnight, but the creation of more humane education system could be facilitated if politicians, policy advisors and others who work alongside our school leaders did these seven key things.   1. Stop using statistics as a sole measure of success   Teachers and school leaders understand and know how to use assessments. They know how to measure progress. They also know that numbers and statistics...
Why Even the Best Mentor is no Replacement for a Coach

Why Even the Best Mentor is no Replacement for a Coach

  When you step into the Head teacher role, it is quite common for you to be offered a Mentor. An individual who has been there before, who can show you the ropes and who will share their wisdom, knowledge and experience with you.   But… a Mentor is different from a Coach.   A lot of people think that they do pretty much the same thing, but actually, a coach takes care of crucial support needs that a mentor simply isn’t trained for. Even the best school leadership mentor can’t replace the support you can get from a coach — and here’s why:   You’re not your role; you’re a person in a role.   Mentoring is fantastic for developing yourself in the context of your role. It’s largely focused on the external things, like developing your skills for operations, navigating your first governor’s meeting, preparing your reports. But it doesn’t focus on the inner growth that’s necessary to really step into your new role and make it your own. At best, it’s a fantastic way to learn strategies and skills.   At worst, you end up with a mentor who’s just there to inform, and not to guide. Mentors have typically been very successful in their own schools — that’s why your governors or others, chose them to be your mentor. But the thing is, the skills, techniques, and leadership style that worked in their school during their Headship may not be suitable for your school, now.   Most mentors simply don’t have the skills to address the doubts and internal turmoil that come up during Headship,...