Coaching & Leadership Development
Keeping school leaders
hope alive today, for
our children’s hope of a
better tomorrow.
How to Survive as a School Leader

How to Survive as a School Leader

Over the last few years I have moved from being the head of a single school, albeit on two sites, to CEO of a Multi Academy Trust serving over 4,000 students and employing about 700 staff. I love my job and the fantastic staff and students I get to work with every day, but the pressures of this changed role and the ever increasing demand for more have taken their toll. This year has probably been one of the hardest – and most rewarding – of my career. From a place of still figuring things out, there are five key observations I would like to make about how to survive as a leader and what my strategies will be going forwards.

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How to Make the Most of the School Holidays

How to Make the Most of the School Holidays

When you are working in a school, engaging day-to-day with children and their families, teachers, support staff, governors and other adults, you know you will know that you expend great amounts of mental, physical and emotional energy meeting the emotional needs of others.

That’s why it’s so important that you use your holiday time to really switch off from the pressures of running a school, sit back, relax, re-charge your batteries and above all, focus on your emotional needs. If you don’t, you will run the risk of starting the new term (or half term) only partially re-fuelled and more likely to burn-out when you return to school. If you need a little help winding down over the holiday break or planning on how to make the most of your school holidays, then I believe these six key tips could be very useful…

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How Stories Change us and Determine our Future

How Stories Change us and Determine our Future

This blog comes from writer, storyteller, educator and “Education for the Soul” Conference keynote speaker, Geoff Mead. Stories are the secret reservoir of values: change the stories that individuals or nations live by and tell themselves and you change the individuals and nations. John Okri     Anthropologist Dr Frances Harwood — a student of Margaret Mead’s — once asked a Sioux elder why people tell stories. He answered: “In order to become human beings.” She asked, ‘Aren’t we human beings already?” He smiled. “Not everyone makes it.”   The world is full of stories. But not everything is a story; we communicate in other ways as well: we analyse data, exchange information, proffer opinions, make arguments, and plead our case, to name but a few. So, what exactly is a story?   My favourite definition comes from organizational storyteller Annette Simmons who says that a story is: “an imagined (or reimagined) experience narrated with enough detail and feeling to cause your listener’s imagination to experience it as real!”   A story happens somewhere in the space between the teller’s imagination and the listener’s imagination. “Ah. But I don’t deal in imagination,” you might say. “I deal in facts. I only want to know what’s really happening.”   Actually, imagination is how we create reality. We rely on our capacity to make images in the mind to interpret immediate sensory information (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste): we smell baking and imagine the pie; we hear a bang and imagine a gunshot; the hairs on the back of our neck stand up and we imagine an intruder.   In this way,... LEARN MORE
How to Engage the Heart for Successful School Improvement

How to Engage the Heart for Successful School Improvement

Change is never easy. Ironically, we counter it almost every single day of our lives and yet the accompanying struggles and stresses that are often a part of the change process, still seem to always take us by surprise.
Never more so is this the case than in schools where very often the emotional responses to change and school improvement can cause individuals to lose sight of the fact that change is just as much a relational process as it is a strategic and operational process. Successful change involves engagement of the heart, just as much as it does engagement of our cognitive faculties. When the heart is engaged, the stories that individuals then tell about the change process within their schools is more humane, generative and hope-centred.

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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 must NOT see fellow Leaders as Competitors

Why Heads must NOT see fellow Leaders as Competitors

Over the last few years, it’s fair to say that many changes have taken place in our education system that have transformed relationships between Headteachers. I remember back when I was a Headteacher in a local authority (LA), whilst it was by no means a perfect institution – they understood the importance of creating structures that fostered a strong sense of collegiality and camaraderie amongst its Head teachers. Yet sadly over the last few years, now many (if not most) LA’s have been dismantled. The increased emphasis on results and league tables has meant that Heads are now encouraged at every stage to compare and compete with local schools, in much the same way as businesses would.

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Why Headteachers Need to Learn to Reflect

Why Headteachers Need to Learn to Reflect

As a Head there are many questions that you are called to answer; questions for which you very often have to justify, defend or give account for your actions and decisions made. These questions are very much bound up in the ‘doing’ of the role, the day to day actions by which much of your role is defined. There are however, another set of questions, which I believe many Heads are called to answer, when they step into the role. Although the reality is, that the frenetic nature of school leadership means that many never even realise this. As a result, they trudge through the day to day, not knowing, not realising, that their inner dis-ease is a call to stop, pause and reflect and to pay attention to the deeper questions of the soul/the person in the role.

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3 Steps to Improving School Communication

3 Steps to Improving School Communication

According to research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology “85% of our success is due to our ability to communicate”. This puts effective two-way communication at the heart of a successful school. In our previous post, How to Develop your Own Personal Vision we talked about how important a personal vision is to a leader. Similarly, a school’s vision and how it is lived is what sets it apart. A school leader can create or evolve a vision that inspires their teachers. This best happens through genuine two-way communication and listening. When lived fully through all that a school does, the vision sets the tone for the right culture, supporting wellbeing, innovation, creativity and enabling teachers to collaborate. Ultimately, improving the education experience for children.

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5 Steps to Sustaining Your Leadership Confidence

5 Steps to Sustaining Your Leadership Confidence

Do you ever suffer from self-doubt? I hope so! If I met a Head who told me they never doubted themselves, then… Put it this way: I wouldn’t want my children at their school! Self-doubt is the proper cost, for a committed and conscientious professional, of allowing herself or himself to be human in the face of challenge. Without self-doubt, we might never allow ourselves to reveal the amazing insights that can come from letting go of our most cherished assumptions! That doesn’t mean there aren’t times when self-doubt gets in the way. It can be crippling. We have to make sure it’s healthy. When I was a Head, there were four situations which could raise my self-doubt to unhealthy levels.

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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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