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.”
To make matters worse, leaders are now expected to “do more with less” and improve their schools with depleting school budgets. They are expected to fill the gaps that social workers and family support systems can no-longer provide (again due to budget cuts). Amidst all these challenges, it appears very little consideration has been given to the impact that these additional expectations and pressures have had upon the mental health and well-being of those who lead our schools.
Therefore, it is no surprise that so many Headteachers struggling with the heavy emotional cost of leading and find themselves feeling isolated, stressed, exhausted, out of control and plagued with fear and self-doubt.
I have seen too many teachers and school leaders sacrificing their personal well-being to simply survive in the profession. I’ve coached Heads on the brink of a nervous breakdown. I have received desperate pleas from their partners and witnessed the inhumane treatment of those who have disappeared from the system.
We don’t feel this is the way education should be. Something needs to change. The truth is that the system needs to change and we believe that change can start from within – from within those who lead our schools on a daily basis.
We know from the many years that we have spent supporting Heads and school leaders, that you have the power to change your daily experience of school leadership and take back control of your leadership story. We want to support leaders to do just this.
That’s why on the 18th October 2018, we hosted Headteachers & School Leaders from across the country for our “Education for the Soul” 2018 Conference designed to help leaders to explore and discuss what matters most to them (their values, hopes and passion) and locate ways of leading that are aligned to themselves and their hope for their schools.
It is fair to say, the day was a very special one and a huge success with so many school leaders and education professionals joining us for this. It was so wonderful to watch these individuals drop their leadership masks and come together, in service of one another and in service of shared hopes, dreams and ambitions for our children and our schools. Following the success of the conference, I’m delighted to say that in October 2019, we will once again host Headteachers & School Leaders for this special conference.
The conference will aim to build on the outcomes of “Education for the Soul” 2018 and seek to explore how school leaders and teachers can learn to lead with integrity, depth and purpose. As part of this, we will look into how individuals can stay connected to their “why” and the role coaching can play in helping those in education in create alignment with their deepest values.
Above all, “Education for the Soul” Conference 2019 will aim to help school leaders and teachers:
– Foster a deep sense of vocation and purpose amongst all staff
– Gain a better understanding of coaching (theory, processes, neuroscience etc.) and how it enables others to work in deep alignment with their true values
– Increase their understanding of the relationship between school development and adult development
– Keep hope, joy passion, commitment and creativity at the heart of their school and relationships with self and others