Coaching & Leadership Development
Keeping school leaders
hope alive today, for
our children’s hope of a
better tomorrow.
5 Tips for Reducing the Stress of Headship

5 Tips for Reducing the Stress of Headship

You would not have reached where you are today if you didn’t know how to harness the power of hope to help you overcome the stresses of school leadership. We know that hope can be incredibly elusive. When external demands and pressures mount and crisis follows crisis, the light at the end of the tunnel can appear to be very faint and distant glimmer. In such times, hope is just as essential for your own well-being, as rain is for flowers in the desert.

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“Fight or Flight” – How to End the Leadership Struggle

“Fight or Flight” – How to End the Leadership Struggle

In May of this year, a national newspaper headline read, ‘Three in 10 new School leaders quit in the first five years”. For those of us who work in schools this is old news. We know that draconian changes within the education sector have left many teachers and school leaders struggling … “With a sense of despair, self-doubt and frustration that occurs when they experience themselves in ways which are incommensurate with their vision…. They experience a disjuncture between original ideas and current realities.” We know this means many teachers and school leaders simply struggle to survive – mentally, physically and emotionally. Consequently, many feel they have only two options to either fight or flight. Neither options are good for the system or the individual.

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3 Things Headteachers Should Stop Feeling Guilty About

3 Things Headteachers Should Stop Feeling Guilty About

The weight of school leadership is not an easy load to bear. It takes a pair of broad shoulders to consistently carry the weight of expectation that is placed upon Heads and their roles. All too often, the weight of responsibility is made that much heavier by the feelings of guilt that many Heads carry around with them. Guilt that is kept hidden from others but is not secret to the bearer. For many a School Leader guilt is insidious and more often than not undermines your efforts to do the right thing. You know as a Head, doing the right thing is frequently the most difficult thing to do; particularly when decisions made are contrary to what ‘others’ believe is required. Guilt knows this and rather than support your decisions, guilt works in tandem with your inner critic to tell you that you have got it wrong. That it is you that is out of step and that you are to blame for the emotional responses and behaviours of others.

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4 Tips for a Successful School Year

4 Tips for a Successful School Year

The new school year has only just begun and I am guessing it’s already feeling as though you have never been away! The to-do list is just as long as it was when the last term finished. There are still a high volume of issues demanding your attention — and you may feel as though you are struggling to keep the feeling of overwhelm away from your door! There may appear to be so many choices and decisions to make, that it’s feeling hard to know where to begin. If this feels like you, then here are four simple tips to help you have a successful start to the new school year…

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The Conversations Every New School Leader Needs

The Conversations Every New School Leader Needs

Perhaps one of the most unenviable aspects of becoming a school leader is the fact that from day one, almost everything you either say or do comes under intense public scrutiny. The challenge of being under constant scrutiny for much of your working day is tough! It means that it becomes near impossible for you to find a quiet space where you can still your thoughts and make sense of whatever the day has thrown at you. In the hurly-burly of school life, when faced with challenging circumstances (which often arise on a daily or some-times even minute by minute basis!) you very quickly become adept at responding to events with perceived expertise and aplomb. Responding to stress, responding to crisis, small and large that are not a part of the planned daily routine, soon become an accepted part of your life as a school leader.

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Why Headteachers Need Different Support to Teachers

Why Headteachers Need Different Support to Teachers

Everyone can use support in their careers. But what many people don’t realise is that the further you progress in your career, the more support you need. Many assume that once you climb to the Head teacher post that. Either support is no longer required or you require a similar level of support to that received in previous posts. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is, the role of Head teacher is markedly different from any other teaching or leadership post that you might have held; strategically and operationally, mentally and emotionally. It is for these reasons that Heads need support that is bespoke and tailored to meet the specific personal and professional challenges of the role.

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Why Heads Need to Learn to Share

Why Heads Need to Learn to Share

A while back, I attended a well-being conference for school leaders. An OFSTED inspector was one of the guest speakers. As the school leaders who were present aired their feelings about OFSTED and whether it was really fit for purpose, this inspector’s demeanour changed. Initially, he confidently told the audience what he believed they should be thinking and feeling about OFSTED. But he became nervous and agitated when the audience asked him to listen to their actual thoughts and feelings. It seemed that he was uncomfortable with the level of emotion in the room, and to have acknowledged that depth of feeling would have left him exposed and vulnerable. It is my belief that if he had dropped his guard – if only for a moment – he would have shown a more human side to OFSTED, which is what the delegates were desperate to see. Like all of us, they just wanted to be listened to.

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Why Budget Cuts hurt our Schools and their Leaders

Why Budget Cuts hurt our Schools and their Leaders

Earlier this year, the TES quoted a report by the NAHT that revealed, ‘65% of school leaders “strongly agree” that cutbacks have already had a negative impact on the performance of their schools.” In discussions related to the impact of spending cuts we have become used to reading about schools asking parents to contribute towards books and other essential supplies. We have become used to hearing about the pressure of increased class sizes, reduction in supply budgets and teachers taking on a raft of additional duties to cover posts that have been deleted. We hear all of this and quite naturally we understand how financial cuts have had a detrimental impact on the performance of many of our schools. However, there is an added dimension to the debate that is often missed. Since the global financial crisis austerity has been an ever-present part of the collective mindset.

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The Biggest Mistake a Headteacher can Make

The Biggest Mistake a Headteacher can Make

As a Head you are human and just like us all, there will be times when you will make mistakes. Mistakes are not to be feared. It is through our mistakes that we learn and grow. However, in the life of a Head teacher, I would argue there is one mistake, that you cannot afford to make. And that is the mistake of believing because you are now at the ‘top’ of the ladder you are the finished article. Your years of honing your craft in the classroom and leading as a Deputy have fully prepared you for the role that you now occupy and that there is nothing more for you to learn. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. When you step into the Headteacher role, it is important to recognise that you are now at another stage in your development as a leader. Very often, the psychological adjustments that need to be made in order for you to fully accept and understand this can be like learning to walk again.

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The 3 Disciplines of Great School Leaders

The 3 Disciplines of Great School Leaders

Our schools will always need great leaders. Individuals who possess deep levels of courage, tenacity and integrity and are willing to take on the often very heavy mantle of school leadership. With a continuing decline in the number of teachers putting themselves forward for leadership roles, we need to take a long hard look at what can be done to maintain the commitment of those who have taken a step up the ladder. Strategies need to be considered that address the person within the role and “evoke the inner life of activities that cultivate their capacity to lead with greater consciousness, self-awareness and integrity” (Parker J Palmer)

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An Open Letter to Every School Leader

An Open Letter to Every School Leader

It is our belief that over the last few years, our education system has lost sight of one of its strongest and most important assets – its humanity. Values more akin to the business world have seeped into the system with schools encouraged to see children as data, other school leaders as competitors and results as the ultimate goal of education. We have seen too many school leaders ‘disappear’ with many being forced out, sometimes on the back of just one disappointing set of results. Consequently, we’ve noticed a growing culture of fear within in our education system. Increased levels of public scrutiny and personal accountability have only served to intensify this. As have new structures and roles which have added unnecessary layers of complexity and ambiguity. Many heads now feel they are in a constant battle to prove they know what is being asked of them in this new era and prove that they are “good enough.”

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“Education for the Soul” – Conference Report

“Education for the Soul” – Conference Report

On the 19th October 2017, Head teachers & School Leaders from across the country joined us for our Inaugural “Education for the Soul” Conference. Our purpose was to provide a different type of school leadership conference; one that would provide a space for school leaders to explore new and sustainable ways of leading that would enable them to overcome the stresses of their roles and maintain their ability to lead and inspire others. Unlike other School Leadership conferences, the day aimed to provide a unique opportunity and space for… Reflection – Where leaders could be themselves and reflect with like-minded colleagues on the aspects of school leadership that mattered most to them. Learning – Where leaders could deepen their personal knowledge and gain a better understanding of how wellbeing contributes to personal performance and school outcomes. Creativity – Where leaders could explore solutions, practical ideas and suggestions for bringing their visions to life. Collegiality – Where leaders could laugh, share and have time to talk with others about how to achieve the very best for themselves and those they lead and manage

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