Coaching & Leadership Development
3 Gifts School Leaders Need this Christmas

3 Gifts School Leaders Need this Christmas

  This blog comes from ex-secondary Headteacher, trainee therapist and Integrity Coaching Associate, Tim Small.   Although it’s a long time ago now, I remember vividly what it felt like being a school leader at this time of year, after the longest term, when the days are shortest and the summer sun seems so far off.    As well as fatigue, which affected everyone, I suffered from a kind of ‘over-immersion’, as if I’d been under water for too long and was starved of oxygen.   In this ‘glazed’ and unreal state, I would decide to put off such things as difficult conversations and creative challenges, if I could do so safely, until I was clearer in the New Year.   Like being caught in a thicket, I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. If I encountered negativity, I would find myself more likely to react negatively and compound the problem.  Then it felt as if everyone around me was getting agitated.   With this in mind, I believe that our school leaders need 3 gifts this Christmas and New year…   1) Courage   Having difficult conversations comes up quite regularly in coaching conversations, as you might imagine. Confronting the unacceptable, especially in a colleague, is never comfortable, but it only gets harder if it’s shirked.   The courage to initiate and manage moments like this is an essential asset.  It enables what needs to be said to be out in the open, rather than fester.   It clears the way for more positive evidence to be asked for and validated and balance restored. It also enables the relationship...
5 Most Popular School Leadership Blogs of 2019

5 Most Popular School Leadership Blogs of 2019

The end of the calendar year is always a great opportunity to reflect and be thankful for those who support and inspire you over the 12 months. This year, in particular, we’ve been very grateful and fortunate to have a number of fantastic bloggers and leaders within education sharing their brilliant insights with us around leadership, well-being and school performance in our weekly blogs. So with not long left in 2019, we thought this would be a great opportunity to look back to some of our most widely read blogs of the year… 1) Dear Ofsted… – Jeremy Hannay     The most widely read blog from 2019 was the open letter to Ofsted, written by Headteacher Jeremy Hannay. Whilst acknowledging the change of approach that had been made by Ofsted over the last few years, he warned that it repeated the same mistakes of previous frameworks by failing to address the high stakes accountability has on staff and school leaders alike. Although I am sure we can all agree that a directional change was needed for you, surely you can see that the same diet of high stakes accountability will have the same disastrous results; this time, with curriculum. Not only is this disastrous for a school and its people, but we will only see the trends leftover from your last frameworks continue – excessive workload, high teacher attrition, low staff morale and high staff anxiety.  Nobody wants to work in a system like this. Jeremy also shared his hope for a school system without an inspectorate, defined by collaboration, rather than competition, in the mould of countries such as Canada and Finland.   Read more 2. Developing Resilient &...
The 3 Signs of a School Coaching Culture

The 3 Signs of a School Coaching Culture

    Coaching very much seems to be a school improvement strategy that is in vogue at the moment.   Considering the amount of coverage it gets across social media and other platforms, many would be forgiven for believing that it was some kind of miracle cure for all that is wrong with our current ailing school system. As much as I am an advocate for coaching in schools, the first thing that I will quite openly and honestly say is, ‘it is not a cure-all!”   If, however, you are serious about creating a culture in which the professional ailments of some parts of our system can be constructively addressed, then along with other personalised approaches to staff development/school improvement, it’s a good place to start.   And … why is it a good place to start? It’s a good place to start because coaching is quite simply about building connections; building connections both with self and with others. And surely this is what school improvement is about. When adult to adult connections are weak a similar fragility is witnessed within school structures and systems. Conversely, when they are strong, school improvement feels that much less arduous.   Schools which are adept at using coaching to support school improvement through strengthening relationships and connections, are often those which are characterised by the three signs of a coaching culture.   They are schools which are characterised by a heightened ability to use coaching (formally and informally) to:   1. Deepen levels of communication and understanding   These schools understand that the first response to a question is not necessarily...
Dear Ofsted…

Dear Ofsted…

This blog comes from Headteacher of Three Bridges School, Jeremy Hannay (@HannayJeremy).  To read the other blogs from Jeremy, please click here.   Dear Ofsted,   Thank you for your recent visit to our school. While your team was lovely and your impression of our school ‘outstanding’, I’d like to share with you my views on the damage your approach to school improvement is having on our system, schools, leaders, teachers and young people.   Your high stakes, ever-shifting approach to school improvement leads to that of fad diets: big promises, quick fixes and, inevitably, unsustainable lifestyles.   The improvement in schools is as long lasting as the weight loss – here today, gone tomorrow – and the schools left victims of the diet meant to help them, heavier and less confident than when they began trying to lose weight in the first place. And worst of all – just like every other crash diet – while the surface might appear slimmer, what’s happened beneath the surface is catastrophic.   Your acceptance of the role you have played in narrowing the curriculum in many schools was welcomed, but your solution is wrong.   Although I am sure we can all agree that a directional change was needed for you, surely you can see that the same diet of high stakes accountability will have the same disastrous results; this time, with curriculum.  In primary, schools are already fearing the expectations placed upon them at short notice.   Subject leaders in primary are not secondary teachers – not subject specialists – rarely with a subject-based degree – and with most teachers disappearing from the profession...