Coaching & Leadership Development
What Happens When Leaders Find Headspace

What Happens When Leaders Find Headspace

This Blog comes from an ex-secondary Headteacher, trainee therapist and Integrity Coaching Associate, Tim Small.    When I look back on my time as a Headteacher, time never stood still.   There was an abundance of meetings to hold, opportunities to be taken advantage of, problems to solve, fires to put out…  Yet, there was always a shortage of what I needed most …time and space.  Time to be still and space to think and feel.   In the frenetic life of a school leader time and space are rare commodities. By not affording time to reflect on lessons learnt, people can find themselves repeatedly making the same mistakes.  The lack of space also limits avenues to explore and process the emotional aspects of the role.   As a result, life as a leader can feel mentally, emotionally and physically intense.  This level of intensity, which most school leaders experience, usually brings exhaustion and too often leads to ill-health and burnout.   Increasingly, ill-health and stress-related issues have made us more aware of the need to protect the mental health of our young people, our teachers and school leaders. We have come to realise that time and space are important conditions for a healthy life and sustained hard work.   With time and space, individuals are able to process their thoughts and feelings, develop a more compassionate approach to looking after themselves and find new ways for sustaining a healthy emotional equilibrium. Various contexts are available for school leaders to attend to these things.  One of the most effective we have found is to offer what we call:   –...

How to Overcome the Isolation of School Leadership

You will know, more than most, that sometimes headship can feel like the loneliest job in the world! There will be times, even when you are surrounded by a school full of children and colleagues who share the day to day tasks of leading and managing your school, when you feel as though there is absolutely no one that you can turn to. These are the times perhaps, when as a headteacher, you feel most vulnerable. You may feel: – Desperately alone – That you have no one to turn to – There is no one within your work context with whom you can share exactly how you feel To make matters worse, when you try to talk to friends and family outside of school, many may offer a sympathetic ear, but you soon realise that sympathy is not always what you need and sometimes their well meaning responses, leave you wishing you hadn’t bothered to ‘burden’ them with your problems after all. So what do you do? Do you, like many headteachers, find ways to cope on your own? Do you increasingly find yourself … – Thinking that you are the only one that has the answer? – Moving further inside your office, your thoughts and your concerns? – Becoming detached from relationships with colleagues, friends and family? – Relying more upon what you can do to address a situation rather than seeking help from other others? These strategies for dealing with the loneliness of headship may appear to work in the short term, but in the long term they will only serve to add to your feelings...
3 Ways to Develop your Leadership Skills

3 Ways to Develop your Leadership Skills

  “Leadership is a function of knowing yourself, having a vision that is well communicated, building trust among colleagues, and taking effective action to realise your own potential”   Warren Bennis   This is one of my favourite leadership quotes as more often than not, when I use it when I am delivering training with Heads, I get somewhat of a quizzical look, when I ask, “What development needs will you need to have met in order to realise your own potential?”   If I ask them about the development needs of their staff, the responses are usually fast and furious. So accustomed are they to coming up with solutions and strategies for meeting other people’s development needs. But when it comes to the meeting of their own, they are often stumped. This shouldn’t be the case. Every Head teacher, whether new in post or well-established needs to understand that above and beyond courses that support the operational and strategic aspects of running a school, there are a myriad of other leadership development needs that must be met to facilitate a holistic approach to their own growth and development in the role.   Of the many types of leadership development needs that Heads, there are 3 that are absolutely fundamental…   1. Leadership development that increases Emotional Intelligence   If you are familiar with the work of Daniel Goleman, you will be familiar with his four components of Emotional Intelligence:   1.  Self-awareness – This is the ability to read your own emotions. It is a competency that allows people to know their strengths, limitations and feel confident about their...
“Why I still have hope for our Education System” – James Pope

“Why I still have hope for our Education System” – James Pope

This blog comes from former Headteacher of Marlwood School, and Director of InspirEducate, James Pope     As I write this it is a cool spring day during the Easter holidays and I am sat in my newly created office, carved out of a basement room at my home.  I imagine a collective professional mind, paused and taking breath, recharging the batteries, enjoying time with family, friends, perhaps sneaking in a holiday abroad or counting down the weeks until the summer one.   This holiday is an odd hiatus to the frenzied school year.  The majority of the year is done and yet the most pressurised period of time is still to come for students, their parents and school staff alike.  The time left is short and for that we are relieved, and yet the time left is short and for that we are not relieved – another example of the contradictory nature of school life in the 20teens.   For many it will be a period of reflection, looking for new jobs, promotion or a different challenge, finally deciding to take the plunge and retire – or just looking for a way out.   At the Headteacher’s Roundtable conference recently I spoke of the moment, just over a year ago, where, commuting to work, at the end of another testing term, the Basement Jaxx song ‘Where’s your head at?’ blasted out of the radio, the song rattling around my head like an earworm, as it has done for the most of the past 12 months.   So, it is a year since I spent Easter reflecting on that question...
Well-being, Purpose and Community

Well-being, Purpose and Community

This blog comes from Headteacher of Brundall Primary School, Rick Stuart-Sheppard.   Having been in education for several decades now, I’ve had plenty of chance to witness what leadership at its very best looks like in our schools.   In that time, I’ve observed how great leadership often comes when individuals feel empowered from the inside out, are able to take decisions that are right for their own settings and on a personal level, they are emotionally and psychologically ok.   However, I’ve also seen how the circumstances of our education system in the last few years has begun to hinder this, such as the undercurrent of fear that now exists within our profession resulting from an accountability system – that at times, has seemed to be more punitive than supportive.   Meanwhile, there has also been rising stress levels amongst Heads, who are increasingly expected to manage change that is driven by external forces and in a direction that many feel is the wrong one, such as the imposed Curriculum a few years ago and enforced academisation more recently.   The ‘symptoms’ of stress, over-work, external judgments and demands can end up taking up so much space, that it is easy to forget to look at the aspects of life that can help us build resilience, persistence and capacity for learning and growth.   This inevitably has had an impact on our schools as after all, ‘When the Head sneezes, the whole school catches a cold’ as one education guru remarked.   I can’t remember which leader said it, but I think it really crystallises the impact of...