This blog comes from ex-Secondary Headteacher, former Governor and Integrity Coaching associate, Tim Small.
As a school governor, responsible for the strategic direction and educational and financial health of your school, how much value do you place on your Headteacher or Principal?
How dependent would you say the school is on this person’s capacity to show up every day, take in information, think and articulate clearly, perform at a high level, stay calm and stay sane?
Here’s another, more scary way of putting the same question; do you know what it costs a school when a Head or Principal is unable to sustain the role due to stress-related sickness?
Thirdly, then, do you take as much care of your Headteacher’s wellbeing as you do of the school’s finances? If not, why not? And how might you do so?
Here’s a proposal to kickstart your Governing Body discussion of this agenda item: How do we take care of our Headteacher’s wellbeing?
First of all, agree a four-stage plan based on these principles:
Principle 1: Assign responsibility (i.e. appoint a link governor to oversee the process)
Principle 2: Audit the current situation and monitor the future, as it develops
Principle 3: Convert information into appropriate action (i.e. agree an action plan based on your findings
Principle 4: Invest to save (i.e. allocate a budget line to ensure it happens)
What might an audit look like?
This would need to be checked out with the person concerned, but here’s a suggestion:
Two key questions need to be asked. With the Head’s agreement, they could either be directed simply to the person themselves or, in a spirit of openness and modelling good practice, given to the rest of the Leadership Team as well, to answer in relation (i) to the Head and (ii) to themselves and the team.
– Question 1: What impacts most positively on your wellbeing? (i.e. what could we try to have more of?)
– Question 2: What impacts most negatively on your wellbeing? (i.e. what could we try to have less of?)
To simplify the process and make it easier to quantify the information you get back, you could create a survey along the following lines (click to view), inviting the respondents to refine it from their perspective it before it’s finalised.
What could you do with the results??
As long as the relationships are trusting enough that such a survey is answered frankly and honestly, this will be a mine of valuable information to inform your action plan.
Here are some prompts to stimulate your thinking about possible next steps (you and your Head might think of others):
– What can be done to introduce or increase the positive factors?
– What can be done to mitigate or reduce the negative factors?
– Could you give each a SMART target and can you make it happen?
– Will you produce, agree and jointly sign off an action plan?
– Will you calendar and publish the actions over the course of a year?
– Will you re-audit wellbeing at least annually, using the same scoring system to ensure the trend is positive and renew and re-contract the action plan?
– If it works well, why wouldn’t you extend it to the whole staff?
Our education system is often accused, with good reason, of only valuing what can be easily measured, rather than measuring what we really value. The last thing I’d want to promote is an even more data-driven approach, but if we accept the necessity of some kind of accountability system, why shouldn’t we design one to enhance what we care about most?
If we look after our school leaders systematically, recognising the impact of their wellbeing and sustainability on everything schools are here to achieve, we have the power to create a virtuous, upward spiral that can only enhance and improve the school’s performance as well as the human flourishing we all aspire to.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can support your Headteacher’s well-being, please watch the video below…
Supporting your School Leaders
We believe that just as our school leaders have a duty of care to their pupils, and their staff; governing bodies have a duty of care to our Headteachers and school leaders.
They have an important responsibility to act as a “critical friend”, providing both challenge and support to those that lead our schools.
Part of this involves ensuring there are robust accountability and support systems to help Headteachers remain at the top of their game.
It also involves safeguarding their well-being and ensuring provision is made to help them overcome emotional, psychological and practical challenges of the role, both in the long-term and the short-term.
To help you do this and enable you to best support your school leader, we are offering a free, Headteacher Well-being Strategy Call…
This call will give you a chance to:
– Discuss your school’s situation and identify solutions that will support your school’s development
– Explore what a well-being strategy might look like and how it could help your school to retain your school leaders
– Talk through the range of ways that governing bodies can effectively support their Headteachers
– Learn how coaching helps leaders to perform at their best and deliver positive outcomes for your pupils.