Coaching & Leadership Development
The Conversations Every New School Leader Needs

The Conversations Every New School Leader Needs

  Perhaps one of the most unenviable aspects of becoming a school leader is the fact that from day one, almost everything you either say or do comes under intense public scrutiny.   The challenge of being under constant scrutiny for much of your working day is tough! It means that it becomes near impossible for you to find a quiet space where you can still your thoughts and make sense of whatever the day has thrown at you.   In the hurly-burly of school life, when faced with challenging circumstances (which often arise on a daily or some-times even minute by minute basis!) you very quickly become adept at responding to events with perceived expertise and aplomb. Responding to stress, responding to crisis, small and large that are not a part of the planned daily routine, soon become an accepted part of your life as a school leader.   However, left unchecked, and without time to reflect on causes, their impact and consequences of actions taken, your automatic behaviours can result in you not being fully cognizant of what your new role is really asking of you and the changes that are required to ensure you succeed.   And so the question arises,   ‘If you are a new school leader, what types of conversations can you have that simply allow you to breathe and make sense of your new emerging identity?   I believe that conversations that are held out of the leadership spotlight are not just helpful additions to the life of a new school leader, they are vital as their inclusion supports long-term professional sustainability...
How to Succeed as a Headteacher – Podcast

How to Succeed as a Headteacher – Podcast

  Back in January 2018, I delivered my first ever podcast in which I shared my belief that our headteachers are being let down by the system in the way in which they are currently supported in their roles.   I explained why in light of changing nature of the role, more needs to be done to help Heads to ‘step up’ to the role in a new way, if we are to keep our great school leaders in the profession.   However, what perhaps I didn’t explore so deeply in my previous podcast was what Heads can do to support themselves and ensure they have the best chance of delivering success for themselves and their school, amidst these growing challenges and complexities of the role.   That’s why in this short podcast, I decided to share ….   – My 3 key strategies for succeeding as a Headteacher – Deeper exploration into the current reality of life as a School Leader – Why meeting your needs as key to sustaining yourself in your role – Some valuable questions for self-reflection     If this podcast resonates with your experience of school leadership and you’d like to explore some of the topics of the call and get a better understanding of how you can best support yourself going forward, I’m now offering free “Coaching for the Soul” calls to provide you a space to do just that.   These calls offer a safe space where you can…   –  Talk openly and honestly about the challenges you’re facing –  Receive support and encouragement in your current situation –  Reflect on recent events and the impact they are having on you as a leader and as a person –  Gain clarity...
How to Develop an Effective School Well-being Strategy

How to Develop an Effective School Well-being Strategy

  Well-being in our schools is currently a hot topic and while there are no shortage of startling newspaper headlines and advice on how to address teacher burnout, reduce workload or minimise stress, there seems to be very little that is concerned with helping teachers regain their sense of agency and power.   An effective well-being strategy will not only include practical tips and tools for helping teachers manage the external demands of the role, it will also help them to manage that over which they have the greatest control – themselves! Yes, there are external pressures exerted by the profession, but there are also internal pressures consisting of our thoughts and emotions and teachers need to know how to both understand and respond appropriately to them.   As the author Aldous Huxley once said, “You can’t change what’s going on around you, until you learn to change what’s going on inside of you”   So where does a school, that wants to develop an effective well-being policy – that addresses both the internal and external pressures of the role, begin? My suggestion is that you begin by doing three key things. 1. Ascertain whether you are all on the same page   Before asking staff what an effective well-being strategy would look like for your context, ask; “What does Well-being mean to you and how can a common understanding influence our behaviour and attitudes as educators?”   I suggest that you ask this question first because responses will help to lay the foundations for what is to follow. If responses from staff indicate that they have a rather narrow...
Managing your Workload – Is Your Working Style Hindering you?

Managing your Workload – Is Your Working Style Hindering you?

  How often have your struggled to get on top of your workload? How often have you promised yourself that you’ll try to put in place that one top tip that you read in a magazine, only to fall at the first hurdle?   Most people in schools have horrendous workloads and all the top tips in the world will do little to help individuals successfully tackle their workloads, if in conjunction, they don’t have a clear understanding of how their own working style or driver behaviour impacts on the way in which they engage with their work.   So …what are driver behaviours?   Driver Behaviours develop subconsciously in childhood. They are ways of behaving that we adopt to help us to develop a sense of feeling OK. Within the field of Transactional Analysis there are five main drivers that have been identified:   1. Please Others 2. Be Perfect 3. Try Hard 4. Be Strong 5. Hurry up   Most people have a dominant and a secondary driver. These drivers serve as an important function because they give us shorthand cues about staying OK under pressure. However, and this is the important point, they can become so familiar and over-used that they can actually stop us from feeling OK.   They can get us stuck with behaviours that compound feelings of stress and in terms of life in school, can impact negatively on our ability to manage our own workloads.   Awareness is the First Step   Take a look at the tables below. They detail the positive aspects of each driver, and the behaviour traits that are...
“How 12 Years of Headship changed me” – Headteacher Story

“How 12 Years of Headship changed me” – Headteacher Story

  This story comes from the Headteacher of Marlborough Primary School, Geraldine Foley.     I am the Headteacher of a large school (we have 535 children on role), based quite centrally in Cardiff. It serves a very diverse catchment area; with children coming from predominantly professional/affluent households, alongside a few from deprived backgrounds.   When I first heard about the NEU (then the NUT) offer of fully subsidised professional Coaching, I had been a headteacher for twelve years. I was five years into my second headship, and recently undertaken a temporary executive headship of another large primary school.   Over the past twelve years as a Head, I had given so much of myself, that it had been to the detriment of looking after my own well-being. While things professionally were going well, I was completely burnt out. I was running on empty.   Being a headteacher became everything. I had neglected my friendships, no time or energy for anything else. I had lost sight of who I was as a person, it was though the “real me” had vanished and I had become just a headteacher. I was working increasingly long hours and found myself often still working at 9 o’clock in the evening. Without realising it, it was beginning to undermine my effectiveness as a leader; things started taking me much longer than they used to, e.g. checking e-mails etc.   That’s what twelve years of headship had done to me. I became the shadow of the person I used to be. I tried to hide it from everybody, from my family to the people at school. I managed...