Coaching & Leadership Development
Keeping school leaders
hope alive today, for
our children’s hope of a
better tomorrow.
The 3 Common Mistakes that School Leaders Make

The 3 Common Mistakes that School Leaders Make

  When you become a school leader, getting to grips with everything that the role is really asking of you can be hard work.   The psychological adjustments that need to be made in order for you to fully accept and succeed at what the role is asking of you can be akin to learning to walk again.   Just as, when you were a child learning to walk, you had to be supported by your loved ones to move from a place of unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence [Maslow’s Four Stages of Learning], as a school leader you have to be supported to move to this confident place of being too.   However, many school leaders are unaware of this fact and because of this, mistakes can be made which jeopardise the fulfilment of their vision.   In particular, there are three mistakes that school leaders commonly make which could be easily avoided….   Mistake # 1: Not asking for personal support   Without support, the experience for a school leader who is growing into their role is both lonely and limiting. Progress is slow and in extreme cases stunted; neither the individual nor those they lead are able to reach the level of maturity necessary for sustained personal effectiveness.   Every school leader’s journey begins, no matter how well concealed, at the point of unconscious incompetence and it is only with time, patience, understanding and a space that facilitates personal growth, that an individual can reach the point of unconscious competence.   To avoid this mistake find seek out help that supports both your personal and professional growth.   Mistake # 2: Not recognising that... LEARN MORE
Dear Headteachers…

Dear Headteachers…

I know that every day, you take on a role that asks way more than many others could imagine. Every day, you give of your best so that our children can bring forth the promise that lies within them. Yet, I wonder, how often have you stopped to ask yourself; “What of my promise, what of my gift to the world, who is that takes cares of and nurtures this for me?” If you grew up in the 70’s as I did, you may be familiar with a poem by Dorothy Law Nolte called Children Learn What They Live. It seemed to be a guide for parents, telling them how to be with their children so that that they grew into healthy fully functioning adults.

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How the NEU are helping to transform School Leadership

How the NEU are helping to transform School Leadership

  There can be no doubt that many Head teachers lead their Learning communities with integrity, care, compassion and high expectations.   This is evident on an hourly basis in any school and education setting daily. Whilst expectations of our Head teachers, from Government departments are growing exponentially, the care, support and integrity with which Head teachers are often treated is sadly lacking.   Head teachers daily model compassion and concern for others. They deliver high degrees of challenge and expectation and achieve results based on the trust which they inspire in others. Yet there has been a stark contrast between the professional tone setting at school level with the rhetoric of education policy makers.   The tone has become increasingly autocratic and divisive. As such, there is now a desperate need to for a more compassionate approach to strategies for supporting the recruitment and retention of our Head teachers. Corporate executives have space for “lessons learned” and continuous improvement between projects. Head teachers need something similar.   To understand what this should look like, first we need to consider the support needs of Head teachers that the system is currently overlooking.   Developing an accurate understanding of the support needs of Head Teachers   Whether Heads are new in post or are well established and long serving, too often the predominate type of support that they receive is that which is concerned with meeting the strategic and operational aspects of the role. Their emotional needs are often neglected, and this is where support fails, because there are no clear systems and structures through which this can be achieved.... LEARN MORE
How to Devise a Winning School Vision

How to Devise a Winning School Vision

Stepping into a new school leadership role can be one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do – but it can also be one of the most challenging and the first few weeks can feel daunting as you adapt to the demands of life as a school leader. To help you manage the transition and help make this time a little less overwhelming, I’ve decided to put together 5 key tips for all those who are embarking on a new school leadership role.

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Why Even the Best Mentor is no Replacement for a Coach

Why Even the Best Mentor is no Replacement for a Coach

When you step into the Head teacher role, it is quite common for you to be offered a Mentor. An individual who has been there before, who can show you the ropes and who will share their wisdom, knowledge and experience with you. But… a Mentor is different from a Coach. A lot of people think that they do pretty much the same thing, but actually, a coach takes care of crucial support needs that a mentor simply isn’t trained for. Even the best school leadership mentor can’t replace the support you can get from a coach — and here’s why: You’re not your role; you’re a person in a role. Mentoring is fantastic for developing yourself in the context of your role. It’s largely focused on the external things, like developing your skills for operations, navigating your first governor’s meeting, preparing your reports. But it doesn’t focus on the inner growth that’s necessary to really step into your new role and make it your own. At best, it’s a fantastic way to learn strategies and skills.

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Can we reconcile Accountability with Humanity?

Can we reconcile Accountability with Humanity?

I hear and have sympathy with many complaints about the accountability system for schools in England and Wales. They echo around our professional community: …encourages teaching to the test…; the stress of SATs…’ OFSTED paralysis…; the ‘assessment tail wagging the curriculum dog’…; you don’t fatten a pig by weighing it. Most serious are the arguments about de-humanisation and the ‘factory culture’: if young people are only equipped to (i) assimilate, store and regurgitate information and (ii) practise easily assessable skills, whenever will they learn to know and express themselves fully and understand each other? How will they be enabled to navigate their unpredictable futures and turn challenges into opportunities? It’s important to recognise is that these are not arguments against accountability. As long as education costs money (and I’d like it to cost a lot more than it currently does) then those who ‘deliver’ it must always, of course, be accountable to those who pay for it. Many of us are on both sides of that fence. Accountability is an essential, not an evil!

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7 Ways to Bring the Humanity back to our Education System

7 Ways to Bring the Humanity back to our Education System

Education has and always will be my ‘first love’. Although I didn’t have the best experience of school growing up, l fell in love with education when I became a teacher and witnessed first-hand the difference my passion and commitment made to the children in my class. I loved it then and I still love it now. Even though, three decades on, so much has changed. Yet, I know there are many in the profession, particularly school leaders, who struggle to keep the connection to their original passion and commitment. It is not their fault. Over the years, with a succession of educational directives, teachers and school leaders have found themselves caught in the middle of a political battlefield; where humanity has been sacrificed for the sake of political ideology. If our teachers and school leaders are to re-claim their commitment, passion and sense of vocation, then our education system has to start really engaging with those on the ground. They must be listened to. Trust has to be re-built and ways have to be found to re-humanise the way in which our school leaders are supported to raise and maintain high standards across our schools.

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Every School Leader needs to remember this when Goal-Setting!

Every School Leader needs to remember this when Goal-Setting!

Setting goals with teachers at the start of every academic term can be a very productive process. However, as simple as the process might seem, it is very often executed poorly. As a result, many individuals fall short of the goals that either they or others have set for them. When goals are set properly they enable individuals to: Achieve a greater sense of direction:When we know where we are heading we are far less likely to be knocked off course and even when we are, we know the path that will take us back to where we want to get to. Identify where to focus their time and energy: Clear goals give us clarity of thought and with greater clarity, comes greater wisdom as to how one’s time is best used in pursuit of clear goals. We are better able to master our thoughts and become less prone to dispersed and erratic behaviour that are not in service of our roles and responsibilities.

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How can Headteachers Support the Wellbeing of their Staff?

How can Headteachers Support the Wellbeing of their Staff?

Mental Health and well-being in our schools are hot topics at the moment and for good reason! Too many teachers and school leaders have left and continue to leave the profession because the system has given short shrift to taking care of the person in the role. It is my belief that if we are to preserve the personhood of our teachers, then alongside strategies for reducing workload etc, they must also be supported and empowered to take control of their own responses to stress. This blog outlines four key habits that Head teachers can encourage their staff to adopt to enable them to take greater responsibility for their own well-being. The premise from which I am starting is that well-being is about having a healthy and courageous relationship with self. It is concerned with doing the inner work that brings integrity and authenticity to the outer work of being human.

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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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The NEU offer Headteachers Free Coaching Support

The NEU offer Headteachers Free Coaching Support

It’s almost thirty years ago, when as a newly qualified teacher, I signed up to become a member of the NUT. Like many new teaching recruits, I signed up because I believed in the union’s values of equality, fairness and social justice. These very same values are held by many Heads who still hold NUT membership. Yet we know with the deluge of change that has occurred over the past decade, the struggle to hold onto one’s values has become an increasingly difficult and lonesome task.

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