Back in 2017, the NfER published its report into Head teacher retention and despite the dire warnings of the report, still very little seems to have changed. School leaders are still leaving the profession in droves.
The report stated that since 2012 retention rates had fallen and it suggested that, ‘system instability (the pace and nature of policy changes) and mixed experiences of support may contribute to some head teachers leaving the profession.’
But despite this observation, very little has been done to change and stop the high levels of stress, burnout and early attrition in the profession.
I believe we still need to increase our understanding of the climate and culture of our schools and the corrosive impact that many of the changes have had on our School Leaders. Only then will solutions for retaining our Heads have any deep and long-lasting impact.
What’s causing our Heads to continue to lose their sense of vocation, passion and purpose?
With the changes that have taken place in the profession over the past decade or so, education has become heavily task-centred. Workload solutions have tended to focus on the management of tasks rather than looking at ‘how’ the person charged with carrying out the tasks manages themselves.
From my experience, looking at this area of School Leadership can provide more concrete and long-lasting solutions to addressing both the workload challenge and keeping Heads in the profession.
Whether Headteachers are new in-post, well-established or long serving, too frequently the type of support that they receive is mainly concerned with meeting the strategic and operational aspects of their role. Their emotional and psychological needs are often neglected. Ironically, this is often where support is most needed.
Many Headteachers sacrifice meeting their own needs to meet the needs of those they serve. It is this level of constant giving without moments to replenish, that for many leads to an impoverished sense of self, illness and in some cases complete burn-out.
Promoting and Developing Healthy Engagement
A point must be reached where commitment and activity can be separated. Headteachers need to be supported to address and engage with their roles in new ways. These new ways ought to include the prioritisation of self-awareness, self-management and self-compassion.
If Headteachers are to fulfil their ambitions for themselves, their schools, families and communities, they need holistic and balanced support that helps them to reflect on their strengths. So that they can model positive and effective behaviours, inspire them in others and create healthy, happy and enriched learning communities.
Without a doubt the pandemic brought many unexpected challenges for us all. However, one of the silver linings of the past two years has been a heightened awareness of what matters most for all of us. We learnt:
– The value of community
– The need to stay connected
– The importance of being supported
We also learnt that deeper connections matter, none of us can survive alone and to thrive and overcome the challenges of leadership life we need real, deep, and meaningful connections with others.
That’s why we have launched our new “Heads Together”, a new School Leadership community, designed to connect like-minded school-leaders and to provide a watering hole for inspiration, encouragement and support.
Our “Heads Together” Community is designed to provide School Leaders with:
– A vital network of support to help individuals manage the emotional strains and stresses of the role
– Collaborative forums for thoughtful exploration around timely and important leadership themes
– Inspiration and encouragement throughout the year to help keep leaders’ passion and purpose alive
If you’d like to find out more about the community, and how it could help support you in your role, simply follow the link below…