Coaching & Leadership Development
Becoming a Headteacher – The 4 Key Challenges

Becoming a Headteacher – The 4 Key Challenges

  As anyone who has been a Head will tell you; becoming a Headteacher requires a huge amount of steel, resolve and self-confidence. The accompanying learning curve is more a like a steep incline up the side of Mount Everest and it is an ascent that cannot be achieved alone.   Many assume that those who occupy the role, need no further professional development, that they are fully equipped to deal with the challenges of school life, but nothing could be further from the truth.   There are an array of challenges that you will face when you become a Headteacher, that must be managed effectively if you are to stay in the profession for the long-haul and fulfil the vision that you hold for yourself and those you lead and manage.   1. Isolation   Headship is a lonely job, and without the right support you can become incredibly isolated. As a teacher, no matter what kind of challenges you’re facing, you’re still surrounded by a group of people, in your school, who are undergoing similar challenges, but as a Head, you’re on your own.   As a result, when you become a Headteacher, it’s hard to find people who are not only are willing to listen to you but are also wiling to suspend judgement; individuals who are in your corner, simply seeking to understand what your truth looks and feels like.  As a result, it can be extremely difficult to share openly with others; even fellow Heads can at times be reluctant to open up about what’s going on beneath the surface.   This sense of having to keep everything, your true thoughts, feelings...
How to Rebuild Your Leadership Confidence

How to Rebuild Your Leadership Confidence

    It’s an understatement to say that life as a school leader can be bruising. The impact of the responses of disgruntled staff, a poor OFSTED report, complaints from parents or conflict with governors can send even the most resilient of leaders into a downward mental spiral.   When negative events occur, your confidence can take at hit. You can begin to feel as though you are not up to the job for which you have been appointed. From my own experience working with school leaders, nothing can be further from the truth. Many, if not all, are still up to the role. It’s simply that they need to be reminded of their own power within and steps they can take to feel like their former, confident selves again.   If you are feeling at a bit of a low ebb now, because of events that you are facing as school leader, set a few minutes aside to read this short blog. See if you can identify at least one step that you can take to rebuild your leadership confidence again.   Step 1: Change your Habits   When we’re feeling low, we can get stuck in habits that were initially adopted to comfort us, but if overused, may actually inhibit our ability to grow our confidence and self-esteem. I knew of one school leader, who hid every time she saw a particularly vexatious member of staff heading along the corridor towards her.   At first, she did it because her thought process was, “I just don’t have the time to deal with her right now”. However, overtime,...
Why our Schools Need Authentic Leaders

Why our Schools Need Authentic Leaders

  It truly saddens me to say this, but it is my belief that one of the unfortunate legacies of recent educational reform has been the fuelling of egocentric approaches to school improvement.   Government policy has enabled investment that has assisted the creation of personal power bases, rather than an education system in which all truly flourish.   For those heads and school leaders who have sought to maintain an altruistic approach to their roles, the constant question many have struggled with is; “How, within the current realities of the education system, can I maintain my original ideals and lead with true authenticity?”   The school leaders who ask this question are the brave and courageous ones. They are the ones who are prepared to do the ‘inner work’ of school leadership and ask the deep questions that will ensure that they remain rooted in their values and what they know to be true. They are the authentic leaders.   And, make no mistake, like never before, we need these authentic leaders. We need them at the helm of our schools for 3 key reasons:   1. Every child has the right to flourish   For this to be true our school leaders need to flourish. School leaders cannot and do not flourish when they are leading from a place that is a lesser version of their true/best self. It simply isn’t possible.   Within us all there is a desire to reach forward, to grow. However, when this is thwarted, whether through fear, the misuse of power, etc., individuals adopt behaviours that keep them and their aspirations...
Leading with Authenticity – The Cost of Not Being Yourself

Leading with Authenticity – The Cost of Not Being Yourself

  Many of us have, no doubt, experienced times or even situations when we have felt the need to act differently from what feels to be our true self.      Sometimes this is because we believe that in order to succeed or gain approval, we have to alter our behaviour and show others a changed version of ourselves; one that we perceive others want us to be – a “false self” that we think will meet their expectations.   In some situations, the “false self” acts as a very clever defence mechanism. It has the cunning ability to make us feel safe in potentially threatening situations. If we are on our guard and present this “false self” to the  world, then we have no fear of rejection or criticism. As our true, authentic, vulnerable self is protected from the judgement and critique of others.   Being authentic is something increasingly talked about in the context of leadership, but can be very difficult for School Leaders. Particularly given the prevalent damaging expectation on School leaders to be “Superheads”, strong rocks of their respective schools, impervious to criticism, unmoved by crises and able to turn around a school without feeling anything in the process.   As such, it is not unusual for many Heads to feel that they need to hide their vulnerability, in order to try and live up to this expectation and maintain order and command respect from staff and pupils alike.   However, what is often overlooked, is that by not being ourselves, there is a heavy price to pay, in terms of our well-being, our relationships...
What are the Hidden Challenges of being a MAT CEO?

What are the Hidden Challenges of being a MAT CEO?

This blog comes from the Chief Executive Officer of Folio Education Trust, Jonathan Wilden   For a number of years schools have operated in traditional ways where the establishment was essentially run by Headteachers.   Then came about the introduction of school business managers to help look at the way school funding was used. Then following the academisation of many schools this has developed into a more suitable role for chartered accountants who report a more accountable income statement and balance sheet to the Board.   Now we see a third evolution as academies join together either by choice or by persuasion from the DfE to benefit from the advantages of collaborative school improvement and shared services. These new structures drive economies of scale and generate additional savings.  These can then be driven back into the core purpose of schools, which is to support Teaching and Learning and help every child to reach their personal best.   This step change through the evolution of schools has meant that a gap is growing. The gap is between those who work on the front line, who are dealing with sometimes resource heavy teaching and learning experiences and those who are charged with the financial management and strategic direction of the Multi Academy Trust.   This gap is amplified by the variance in skill set, where a classroom teacher is trained to support young people and the CEO and CFO are becoming removed from classrooms and playgrounds and operating as managers of people and finances.   Some CEOs even, have never taught a lesson, which is a point of debate but can...