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.
2. Developing Resilient & Authentic Leadership – Samantha Jayasuriya
In a captivating blog back in June, former Headteacher and IC associate coach, Samantha Jayasuriya opened up about the impact that her Headship had on her resilience and authenticity.
Whilst admitting that she enjoyed the role for the most part, she tells of how the role began to hinder her ability to relax and had caused her to begin to hide her authentic self.
As a Head with young children, I did not have any time for me and any downtime was napping in front of the TV. There was a distinct lack of creative endeavour. More worryingly, over the last ten years as a Head, I had very effectively stopped giving myself any time. I was Headteacher, teacher, mother of two small children, wife, daughter and sister to many. But Sam; where was Sam?
She then recounts how one evening changed the course of her Headship and her life, and how a unique hobby allowed her to reconnect with herself, improve her well-being and build her resilience.
3. The Art of Relationships-Led Leadership – Rob Carpenter
Why are relationships so crucial to effective leadership? And how can Leaders develop a positive and supportive culture in their schools?
These are the questions that CEO of Inspire Partnership, Rob Carpenter explored in a blog back in November. In this piece, he speaks openly and honestly the mistakes he made when becoming a Headteacher and how experience has taught him that relationships are key to school success.
“When I took over, I appointed teachers like football managers sign new players: SLEs, advanced skills teachers and expert professionals were all on my shopping list. To my cost, I learned this doesn’t always make a cohesive team. I had unwittingly created a school culture crammed with Galácticos who didn’t want to play together! Over the next ten years, I slowly learned that school improvement is about much more than strategy. Schools are complex, adaptive organisations, bound by relationships at every level.”
Rob goes onto explore the power of storytelling as a school leader and outlines the ways in which his schools seeks to develop connection and collaboration.
4. Well-being, Purpose and Community – Rick Stuart-Sheppard
Back in April, Headteacher Rick Stuart-Sheppard contributed a reflective piece on school leader well-being amidst the current circumstances within education today.
Having been in the profession for several decades, Rick explored the rising accountability in the profession, the culture of fear that has been created and the impact this had on school leaders and in turn, those they lead.
Rick argued that if school leaders are to maintain their sense of okay-ness and ensure that they don’t fall victim to the common symptoms of stress, that school leaders need to focus on two aspects of well-being and mental health that he can get overlooked – purpose and community.
There is considerable evidence such as from The Ministry of Social Development in New Zealand, that our connectedness with social groupings helps people to feel happier and more able to take charge of their lives and find solutions to the problems they are facing. Meanwhile, I certainly know from my own experience that the more I can connect with my (moral) purpose, that education is a force for good and for helping ourselves and the world get better, the more empowered, creative and alive I feel.
5. What are the Habits of an Effective MAT CEO? – Jonathan Wilden
In this insightful blog from the CEO of Folio Trust back in May,Jonathan Wilden explored what he learned since becoming a MAT CEO.
In the blog piece, he discussed the transition that Heads have to undertake when stepping into the CEO role, and the common traps that Headteachers can fall into when starting out in this role.
“Many Headteachers can struggle at being effective CEOs because they won’t be able to make the shift similar to that which they first made when they became Headteachers. Their main challenge often being they just can’t let it go, and still find themselves caught up too much in the operational aspects of school life.”
On top of this, Jonathan also shares his reflections as to what the new role asks of individuals and the behaviours that he believes are necessary to succeed in the role.