Coaching & Leadership Development
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...
The 3 Steps to Surviving a School Crisis

The 3 Steps to Surviving a School Crisis

This Blog comes from an ex-secondary Headteacher, trainee therapist and Integrity Coaching Associate, Tim Small.    Many things can cause a crisis in a School, more often than not – they result from a set of circumstances which are often caused by things entirely out of one’s control as a school leader.  For example, I remember once suffering from a combination of a flu’ epidemic, a shortage of supply teachers and three long-term sickness cases on my staff all happening in the space of a week and it can catch you completely off-guard.   When this pressure is combined with a shift in your personal circumstances, a bereavement, a family sickness, even something as ordinary as a home maintenance crisis can cause serious psychological upheaval, if you allow it do so.   But how can you avoid this happening and what should you do if you find yourself in a situation threatened by a crisis that feels out of control?   Well I believe there’s three three things every School Leader should do if they want to survive a crisis like this unscathed….    1. Remember Your Oxygen Mask   Firstly, I have learned that how you feel is more to do with your inner state than what’s going on out there.  When I’ve slept well and feel physically and mentally OK, I somehow feel ‘bigger’ and problems seem ‘smaller’.  They even seem to matter less, although I am still driven to solve them as best I can.  The difference is that I have some energy to do so.  Fatigue, on the other hand, makes us turn in on ourselves and it becomes...
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...
Why School Leader Well-being must be taken Seriously

Why School Leader Well-being must be taken Seriously

  This blog comes from Assistant Headteacher and TeachFirst Ambassador, Michael Nott (@MrNott117)   In the last few years, the teaching profession has made great strides when it comes to wellbeing.   The rise of feedback instead of marking has undoubtedly had a dramatic impact on teacher workload in schools that have adopted it. Likewise, the accepted practice of centralised detentions has ensured teachers don’t spend their every free moment setting and chasing detentions.   But truly, one of the most significant changes has been Ofsted pushing teacher wellbeing to the top of its agenda, suggesting that as a profession we are at least trying to do something to address it. Granted, it is still nowhere near close to perfect, but I certainly think it has improved in the last few years.   However, despite these improvements, I don’t think that the wellbeing of a school’s senior leadership team has been properly considered. Now, I appreciate that there may be many people out there who are unsympathetic to the idea of senior leadership workload.   After all, to many, it is senior leaders who have led on initiatives that have ultimately increased teacher workload. But I don’t think we gain anything from vilifying senior leaders, and creating an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality. I don’t think any senior leader knowingly sets out to create something that leads to an increase in workload.   Culture Setters   Nevertheless, I do believe that if school leaders are to set the correct culture in a school then it is imperative that senior leader workload is addressed.   Firstly, if a school’s senior leadership...