Coaching & Leadership Development
What happens when Headteachers drop the Leadership Mask?

What happens when Headteachers drop the Leadership Mask?

If you are head teacher, then I am sure, this image will speak volumes to you! You know exactly what it takes each and every day to step into the role of Head teacher and enter a system that so often forgets that you are human. A system, which despite all the well-intentioned rhetoric, expects you to constantly withstand the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’. And, no matter how fast and furious they might be, requires that you always come out victorious, with an ever-present smile on your face.   However, I am sure you know as a Head, many a time life just isn’t like that. Those slings and arrows, whether from a colleague, an inspector, a parent or a Governor, can hurt. They can pierce the soul and leave you feeling utterly down-spirited and disheartened.   It is because of this fact and working closely as we do, with Head teachers, that we decided to host our termly Headteacher’s Nurture Meals. We wanted to do something, that clearly said to Head teachers,    ‘You are of value; you are of worth and you have the right to have your needs met’   We are always very clear in our purpose. This was designed not to be one of those Head teacher gathering where individuals met with their peers, but still felt the need to be to wear their leadership mask or suit of armour, for fear of being judged or criticised for anything that they might say. We wanted to make sure this was different.   Different…. But how? Well … we create a loose framework for discussion, but in the...
“Returning from Maternity Leave was my Hardest Challenge”

“Returning from Maternity Leave was my Hardest Challenge”

  *The author of this blog has asked to remain anonymous I have been a Head teacher in a North London Primary school for 13 years now. In that time, like most Heads – I’ve had to endure some very challenging circumstances, with the rise of personal accountability, frequent changes to the curriculum and depleting school budgets.   However, perhaps one of the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced in my role was when I came back to my Headship after my maternity leave.   My Deputy head had just had a taste of being a Head teacher. As a result, she decided to leave to take up her own headship and so I found myself having to form a new School Leadership team.   To make matters worse, not long after I returned, we were inspected by OFSTED and we went into “required improvement”. Before I even had chance to settle back into my role, I was suddenly having to deal with the extra stress and challenges of improving our school’s rating.   It felt as though everything had changed in the five months, I’d been away and that the job was un-recognisable from the one I left. Before I went on maternity leave I was quite confident about my Headship, but when I returned I suddenly felt like I had lost the conviction with which I used to lead.   As a leader, losing your self-confidence can be one of the hardest things. I began to second-guess my decisions, question whether I could do the job anymore and I constantly felt that I couldn’t cope. To have to...
How can School Leaders improve Staff Well-being? – Expert Interview

How can School Leaders improve Staff Well-being? – Expert Interview

  This expert interview is with IC Associate, executive coach and author of bestselling book “101 Playground Games and 101 Wet Playtime Games and Activities”, Thérèse Hoyle.   Q1. What does Well-being look like?   Wellbeing for me means my body, mind and soul being in harmony. Now this  is often quite challenging as we live in such a fast-paced world, with so much change going on and disharmony around us and we can easily get caught up in this.   It can also sometimes be hard to identify when we’ve got this harmony exactly right. Fortunately, our bodies are such great indicators of well-being and will often let us know when we aren’t in harmony with some quite obvious warning signs.   I know that over the years, because I’ve always expected a lot from myself, I’ve had several periods where I’ve crashed and become sick. For me, this is a warning sign that always tells me that I’m doing too much and that I need to adapt my lifestyle. It shows me that I need to look after myself better and focus on creating habits and a lifestyle that means I can be the very best I can be in the world.   Now I think it’s normal to go off-course like this now and again, as long as we always reel ourselves back in.  I often explain to my clients that that life is like an airplane journey. From the time you take off, you will be off course 99% of the time. All airplanes are off course 99% of the time. The purpose and role of the pilot and the avionics is to continually bring the...
My Biggest Regret as a Headteacher

My Biggest Regret as a Headteacher

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reminiscing on my experience of Headship, the many golden moments and times of great happiness, joy and laughter – but also the numerous challenges, stresses and struggles that came with the role.    As I reflected, I was struck that I was not left feeling rueful by my memories. As with time, I have come to realise that with each and every difficulty, I experienced moments of deep growth and development (even if it hurt at the time!)   However, having said that, there was one thing that did stand out as a regret. Something that has stayed with me to this day. Had this one thing been present, I am 100% sure my whole experience of Headship would have been completely different.   It’ll probably come as no surprise to many, particularly those that know my story, that when I look back on my years as a Headteacher, this big regret is that I didn’t have a coach.   I can’t understate the difference it would have made if I’d had a trusted, external, companion to walk alongside me. Not just to problem solve and talk through the inherent challenges of the role, but for me personally, I just wish I’d had someone to accompany me through the major transitions that I experienced as a Head.   Certainly when I look back there were three major transitions that I now know, I would have progressed through differently had I had a coach…   1st Transition – Moving from acting Headship to Substantive Headship and Motherhood (both at the same time!)   Whenever, I tell others...
My Reflections on “Education for the Soul” 2018

My Reflections on “Education for the Soul” 2018

  On 19th October 2018, we held our second “Education for the Soul” Conference. The theme for this year’s conference was, “Creating new narratives for the school leader’s journey”.   Perhaps not your everyday common theme for a school leader’s conference, but if there is one thing we are certain about at Integrity, it’s that we are not going to follow the standard, traditional format for our conferences.   And so it was for this year’s conference, that we chose to further support school leaders by enabling them to consider the role their stories play in their lives as educators. Our goal was to enable them to respond with as much certitude to the challenges of their roles, as Rosa Parks did in 1955, when she refused to succumb to the racist laws of the US government and instead, assert her right to;   “No longer act on the outside in a way that contradicts the truth that I hold deeply on the inside. I will no longer act as if I were less than the whole person, I know myself inwardly to be.”   Creating a space to be   At a time, when being seen to be busy is still equated with levels of effectiveness, this year’s Education for the Soul Conference provided further validation to the fact that this is an unhelpful paradigm to live by.  Perhaps, this is best captured by the words of a few of this years’ attendees:   “The conference addressed my soul (and heart) it gave me time and space to reflect” “I was given time and space for reflection! No me...