Coaching & Leadership Development
Keeping school leaders
hope alive today, for
our children’s hope of a
better tomorrow.
My Hope for School Leaders

My Hope for School Leaders

Recently, I received a letter from my son’s school. He is sixteen and in the midst of exam season. The school wrote to parents of every child in Year 11, asking them to write and return to the school a letter to their son or daughter, that would be read out to them on the day of their first exam. Our letters were to simply tell our children, that no matter the outcome of their exams, we would always love and care for them. My son doesn’t know I have written this letter. His first exam is today! I hope that when it is read out to him, he will appreciate not only how much I care about him, but also how much his school does as well. I hope it will reinforce for him the compassion, care and concern that are at the heart of the way in which his school works with young people. It is my hope too, that one day this same level of compassion, care and concern will be reflected in the way in which our school leaders are treated.

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3 Things School Leaders Could Stop Doing

3 Things School Leaders Could Stop Doing

Today’s Blog comes from an ex-secondary Headteacher, trainee therapist and Integrity Coaching Associate, Tim Small.  In my experience of working with school leaders, I’ve observed that when leaders find themselves struggling with the challenges of the role, they often have a common natural response. I often find that their reaction is to simply try and “step up”, to work harder and do more, perhaps believing if they just keep working harder, then eventually the challenges of the role will begin to subside. This is a damaging attitude that can lead Heads down a path to burn-out, where many create a larger and more unsustainable workload for themselves and exacerbate their own struggles by working far beyond their hours at the expense of their own wellbeing. On top of this, many still find that the challenges they experienced are just as present as before. Rather, I propose the best way to lighten the reality of school leadership is not to do more and more, but instead by identifying what is it that we can do less of that can best support us in our roles. In doing so, we can help create new ways of thinking and behaving that better serve us in overcoming the struggles of our role. In particular, I believe there are three things which many School Leaders could stop doing that can help make the role more sustainable and joyful… 1. Stop adding stuff to the agenda without taking anything off!   Many of us are good at initiating a new action or project when it aligns with our values and strategic vision.  We might call a meeting about it, ask someone to investigate and report back, agree to set up a working group, give... LEARN MORE
How to Develop an Effective School Well-being Strategy

How to Develop an Effective School Well-being Strategy

Well-being in our schools is currently a hot topic and while there are no shortage of startling newspaper headlines and advice on how to address teacher burnout, reduce workload or minimise stress, there seems to be very little that is concerned with helping teachers regain their sense of agency and power. An effective well-being strategy will not only include practical tips and tools for helping teachers manage the external demands of the role, it will also help them to manage that over which they have the greatest control – themselves! Yes, there are external pressures exerted by the profession, but there are also internal pressures consisting of our thoughts and emotions and teachers need to know how to both understand and respond appropriately to them.

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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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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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“How 12 Years of Headship changed me” – Headteacher Story

“How 12 Years of Headship changed me” – Headteacher Story

I am the Headteacher of a large school (we have 535 children on role), based quite centrally in Cardiff. It serves a very diverse catchment area; with children coming from predominantly professional/affluent households, alongside a few from deprived backgrounds. When I first heard about the NEU (then the NUT) offer of fully subsidised professional Coaching, I had been a headteacher for twelve years. I was five years into my second headship, and recently undertaken a temporary executive headship of another large primary school. Over the past twelve years as a Head, I had given so much of myself, that it had been to the detriment of looking after my own well-being. While things professionally were going well, I was completely burnt out. I was running on empty.

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How to Stay Resilient as a School Leader

How to Stay Resilient as a School Leader

With the ever increasing pace of change in schools today and heightened levels of public scrutiny and accountability, being a school leader today is hard emotional and psychological graft. When change comes along and it is fast and furious [as has been the case in the education sector], you not only have to be able to manage the huge gamut of emotions and dissenting voices that often accompany change of this nature, you also have to be able to manage your own tangled web of thoughts and emotions as you respond to meeting the emotional needs of others and this is a far from easy process.

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Heart and Soul: The Art of Narrative Leadership

Heart and Soul: The Art of Narrative Leadership

It is easy to dismiss storytelling unthinkingly as something that belongs to a bygone age – the province of “fictional old bards.” But I agree with Ben Okri that storytelling should serve a deeper purpose and that, floundering as we are in a sea of stories stained with cynicism and polluted by propaganda, we need courageous, inspired storytellers more than ever. We need to find our own magic, courage, love and fire to tell the stories called for by the time we live in. That’s why the title of this blog is deliberately provocative: heart and soul are big words that do not usually appear in the lexicon of leadership, though we may use them in other aspects of our lives. But this is to make a false distinction between the public sphere of work and the private sphere of home and family. We are innately the same people at work as we are at home; to pretend that we are two different people, with different values, logics and motivations in different parts of our lives is a schizophrenic fantasy. As mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn says: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

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3 Types of Leadership Development that every Headteacher Needs

3 Types of Leadership Development that every Headteacher Needs

“Leadership is a function of knowing yourself, having a vision that is well communicated, building trust among colleagues, and taking effective action to realise your own potential” – This is one of my favourite leadership quotes as more often than not, when I use it when I am delivering training with Heads, I get somewhat of a quizzical look, when I ask, “What development needs will you need to have met in order to realise your own potential?”If I ask them about the development needs of their staff, the responses are usually fast and furious. So accustomed are they to coming up with solutions and strategies for meeting other people’s development needs. But when it comes to the meeting of their own, they are often stumped. This shouldn’t be the case. Every Head teacher, whether new in post or well-established needs to understand that above and beyond courses that support the operational and strategic aspects of running a school, there are a myriad of other leadership development needs that must be met to facilitate a holistic approach to their own growth and development in the role.

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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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How to make Christmas special at your School

How to make Christmas special at your School

I am the proud Headteacher of Parklands Primary School. We are situated in the middle of one of Europe’s largest council estates. We are the most deprived Primary school in Leeds with 82% Pupil Premium Children ….. but what does that mean? No hope? No aspirations? Poor exam results? A poor Ofsted report? On the contrary…. 82% Pupil Premium means we have to get it right for these children; we have to inspire, we have to sell the dream, we have to love, respect and make sure every child is valued, listened to and believed in….. and at Parklands we do just this.

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