Coaching & Leadership Development
Why Heads Leave – The 3 Key Reasons

Why Heads Leave – The 3 Key Reasons

  “When we are doing what is wrong for us, we can temporarily mobilise energy in service to goals, and often we must, but in time such forced mobilisation leads us to irritability, anger, burnout and symptoms of all kinds” James Hollis   Every time, I sit with a Headteacher as their coach, I become acutely aware of the amount of energy they expend in seeking to do what is right for them and right for their schools.   It is not an easy task. Many find themselves in situations where it seems impossible to see the wood for the trees and if they are not supported to find their own way forward, they may inadvertently end up following someone else’s.   More often than not, this other path can end up being the wrong path and for the reasons cited in the above quote, can lead to good people leaving the profession.   To understand why this happens and why there is still such a high rate of attrition amongst Heads, we need to deepen our understanding of three key things that happen to Heads when they ‘temporarily mobilise energy in service to goals’ that are not their own…   1. Disregard for the inner journey   It is my firm and strong belief, that Headship is for many a vocation; a call not only to serve, but also a call to show up as one’s best self. The trouble is, too much of what is provided for Heads in terms of professional development and support in the role, is concerned with the outer garms and vestiges of...
“Two decades as a Headteacher took its toll”

“Two decades as a Headteacher took its toll”

  This blog comes from a secret Headteacher who undertook Integrity Coaching’s NEU 18-19 Coaching programme. The research study into the impact of this programme has since been published by Leeds Beckett University in January 2020.    I applied for a place on the Integrity Coaching Headteacher programme, funded by the NEU, in 2018 at a time when I was struggling to manage the various pressures and demands of my role.   I became a Headteacher in 1999, and there had inevitably been numerous occasions over the previous two decades when my job had been challenging, stressful and all consuming; but this felt different.   I was three years into my third headship, running a successful school with a fantastic staff team and a very supportive school community. My life outside of teaching was also good, a happy marriage, gorgeous family and living in a beautiful part of the country.   Running on an Empty Tank   There was no reason to feel the way I did as far as I could tell. There was no reason for the anxiety I felt every day on the drive into work, or the 3am worries that kept me awake, or the lack of enthusiasm I could muster for anything outside of work. There was no logical reason for these feelings, but that didn’t seem to make them any less debilitating.   Part of me felt that having been a headteacher for almost twenty years meant that I was battle hardened and resilient. Looking back it’s clear that the opposite was true. Two decades of relentless pressure (much of it self-imposed), scrutiny, fear...
“Sustaining a Vital Profession” – Research Report

“Sustaining a Vital Profession” – Research Report

  This blog comes from Professor Rachel Lofthouse, Director of CollectivED at Leeds Beckett University, School of Education and Viv Grant, Director of Integrity Coaching   There is growing evidence of the deterioration of wellbeing amongst teachers and school leaders and a growing recruitment and retention crisis facing the profession.   As recently as November 2019, Education Support published its Teacher Wellbeing Survey. In this survey, over 84% of senior leader respondents admitted to experiencing high-levels of stress from the role, with over 66% of senior leaders have considered leaving.   The survey also highlighted the culture of overworking in the profession; 59% of senior leaders who completed the survey indicated they typically worked more than 51 hours per week. Meanwhile, 28% of senior leaders worked more than 61 hours per week and 11% working more than 70 hours per week.   This situation further highlights the dire situation that faces the profession, which comes after the NFER report in 2017 found that headteacher retention rates have significantly fallen since 2012.   The NFER recommended that:   ‘Leaders need practical and emotional support, as well as opportunities for peer support (such as coaching, mentoring and shadowing.)   Overview   In 2018, CollectivED, a research and practice centre at Leeds Beckett University, was commissioned by the NEU to undertake an evaluation of a year-long headteacher coaching programme.   This research came in response to this growing crisis in the profession and was the first of its kind to explore the relationship between coaching, wellbeing and leadership effectiveness amongst senior school leaders.   The coaching was provided by Integrity Coaching and...
The Headteacher Wellbeing Crisis in our Schools

The Headteacher Wellbeing Crisis in our Schools

  With the recent publication of the Leeds Beckett University report into the impact of Leadership coaching in schools, we have undoubtedly reached a point where the system as a whole, needs to recognise that the personal and professional development of Headteachers go side by side.   As the report and others preceding it have cited, too many good Headteachers continue to leave the profession early or burnout, because the needs of the person in the role have been ignored.   Coaching, as this report reveals, is an essential life-support system for our school leaders and must be recognised as such, if we are to enable our Heads to stay in the profession for the long haul.   Understanding what it means to be a Head today   To understand the impact of coaching as identified by the Heads in this report, we have to understand something more about what it means to be a Headteacher today; particularly amidst cuts to school budgets and public services. Increasingly, schools are now expected to pick up the slack, with no regard to the mental health and care of those involved.   As a result, schools have found themselves on the frontline, having to address the many levels of social inequality that these policies have further amplified.   In the most disadvantaged areas, these challenges are acutely felt; as too is OFSTED’s sword of Damocles when results are not in line with or above national averages.   A daily battleground   For many Heads, education has become a battle ground. Regularly, they find themselves not only fighting for the rights of the...