Coaching & Leadership Development
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7 Ways to Care for your Well-being – COVID-19 Crisis

7 Ways to Care for your Well-being – COVID-19 Crisis

With news of coronavirus dominating the headlines and increasingly affecting our daily lives, even the most level-headed among us will be feeling worry and anxiety. The first thing to recognise is that feeling that way is normal. Considering the abnormality of this situation that seems to be playing out across the globe, it’s completely OK not to feel OK right now. Spiralling into panic, however, rarely helps anything. Or anyone. So whether you’re still in school or teaching from home, the following steps will help you to remain realistic, resourceful and calm as we move through these uncharted waters…

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4 Things School Leaders need in this Coronavirus Crisis

4 Things School Leaders need in this Coronavirus Crisis

It’s fair to say that even at the best of times being a Head is a stressful job. And now with the rapid outbreak of coronavirus across the world, the role has become far more complicated and stressful than perhaps had ever been thought possible. Today, many Heads find themselves having to sail previously uncharted waters; They are having to captain and lead ‘digital’ schools whilst simultaneously provide some type of specialised, alternative provision for children of key workers. It is schooling like many of us have never known before and it’s hard to say where it will lead. All we do know with any degree of certainty, is that at present, this is our new normal and it will require huge amounts of resilience, courage and flexibility to navigate these perilous times. It is in times such as these, when it can feel as though everyone and everything else is at sea, that Heads needs to be supported to literally keep their own heads above water and find ways to remain grounded.

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4 Ways to Tackle Racism in Schools

4 Ways to Tackle Racism in Schools

  This blog comes from education content writer at Twinkl, Kerry Griffiths.    Teachers and school leaders are in the uniquely privileged position of standing alongside their young learners as they start to navigate the world and understand the way that different human relationships work in wider society.   Unfortunately, in many countries and cultures across the world, racism is still prevalent and the effects of this discrimination upon students is grave.   However, educators are uniquely placed to affect positive change around racism with their work with pupils, and this change has a ripple effect through the rest of society.   To do this, teachers and school leaders must first acknowledge that imbalance exists – both in the classroom and in society as a whole. Now this is not easy as talking about racism in the classroom can be difficult, but discrimination must be named and acknowledged before it can be addressed.   Teachers and school leaders must also engage with these challenging discussions if our schools are able to create learning environments where Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students feel safe and all pupils are equally supported to thrive.   With this in mind, what can we do as educators to dismantle these barriers to learning and success and begin to tackle racism in our schools?   1. Recognise and Challenge Your Own Unconscious Bias   Through our lived experiences, each person develops internal biases that, when left unexamined, can become troublesome. These are often unconscious, so the person hasn’t made a decision to think this way, but unless these biases are dismantled they can lead to inadvertent unfair treatment of... LEARN MORE
Race Equality in Schools – 4 Things Heads Must Learn

Race Equality in Schools – 4 Things Heads Must Learn

On paper, schools have had a duty to ensure that they are places which are safe, happy and equitable for all staff, children and their families. We know that in reality, this is much harder to achieve than could have been imagined when we signed up for the job as teachers and leaders. When it comes to race, schools may have been busy with bureaucracy around racial incidents, but it seems like recent events have made many school leaders realise how deeply entrenched structural or systemic racism is in our institutions, and the real impact this has on people of colour, their life chances, access to opportunity, wellbeing, physical and mental health. The start towards becoming an anti-racist school leader is the understanding that racism isn’t just situated in name-calling or focused attacks on individuals, but is more likely to take place in subtle and insidious ways that are the result of our implicit, inherent, learned, or as it is most commonly known, ‘unconscious’ bias. We know that schools are microcosms of society, and schools are charged with fixing all of society’s ills. And recently, we have realised that society is very ill indeed. In short, racism is ‘in’ all of us and it resides in almost every aspect of life. That might sound depressing but the first step to educating oneself as a leader, is to acknowledge that we all have a problem, and to understand that we all have a responsibility to be part of the solution. Before rushing to solutions, it is important that leaders take steps to properly educate themselves, to learn and unlearn in equal measures. Here are four things you can do right now:

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How to Overcome the Isolation of School Leadership

How to Overcome the Isolation of School Leadership

You will know, more than most, that sometimes headship can feel like the loneliest job in the world! There will be times, even when you are surrounded by a school full of children and colleagues who share the day to day tasks of leading and managing your school, when you feel as though there is absolutely no one that you can turn to. These are the times perhaps, when as a headteacher, you feel most vulnerable.

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Support & Space – What new Headteachers Need

Support & Space – What new Headteachers Need

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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Re-Opening Schools – Why Heads Must be Trusted

Re-Opening Schools – Why Heads Must be Trusted

Teachers and school leaders have been on the frontline since the very start of this pandemic. Over the past few days, the way in which they have been vilified by some politicians and certain sections of the media, has served no one, least of all our children. Amidst the high degrees of change and uncertainty brought about by this global crisis, it is both mis-leading and mis-guided to characterise those who work in our schools as either “too lazy” or difficult”, when they have expressed valid concerns about the re-opening of schools. The disparaging way in which their concerns have been presented has not been helpful. By belittling the very legitimate concerns held by unions, school leaders, teachers and parents alike, the discourse around school re-openings has sadly become divisive. At a time, when a spirit of unity has to be at the centre of all efforts to move the country out of lockdown. As an accusatory finger is being pointed at teachers and school leaders, what is patently being ignored is the fact that teachers and school leaders do care! The vast majority care passionately about the profession they have chosen to be a part of. They care passionately about the communities they serve. We need only look back over the past couple of months to see ample evidence of this: from hand-delivering food packages to their most deprived families, facilitating community initiatives (with everything from virtual choirs to helping create masks for the NHS), to of course, providing a range of online learning.

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Coronavirus – Why Schools Don’t Need “Superheads” in this Crisis

Coronavirus – Why Schools Don’t Need “Superheads” in this Crisis

This blog comes from an ex-secondary Headteacher, trainee therapist and Integrity Coaching Associate, Tim Small.   We’re all familiar with the notion of a ‘Superhead’ that is all too often projected onto Heads by the media, namely the idea of a Headteacher unmoved by any problems, and entirely impervious to criticism and job insecurity.   The truth is such a Head has never existed, yet many Heads still try to live up to this myth. Heads put on this “mask” to appear entirely in control and imply an unshakeable foundation for their school but by continually wearing this mask, it begins to alter how they perceive themselves.   Some Heads wear this “mask” so much that they begin to believe themselves to be this indestructible persona. In turn, their reputation of being able to control every situation becomes increasingly attached to their sense of identity and self-worth.   This self-concept is never more dangerous than when a crisis (like the one we are all in now) hits. Suddenly circumstances outside one’s control present themselves. In an instant it becomes clear that humanity, sincerity and compassion, triumph over acts of bravado and self-interest.   A crisis like this  demands true leadership. Leadership that is in service to the greater good. It is leadership that requires huge amounts of empathy and self-awareness. It is leadership that that fully understands what is meant by the words “We are all in this together.”   Does this make sense to you?   I remember once suffering from a combination of a flu’ epidemic, a shortage of supply teachers and three long-term sickness cases on my staff.  Behaviour... LEARN MORE
Breaking the Cycle – How to Address Racism in Schools

Breaking the Cycle – How to Address Racism in Schools

The death of George Floyd, along with the events and debate that have filled the months since, have highlighted again the ongoing and deep-rooted structural racism, injustice and inequality that plague our society. The toppling of effigies erected to men who grew rich through the trafficking of black human beings has delighted some and horrified others. However, as historian David Olusoga commented, after the statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston was torn from its city centre plinth in Bristol and thrown into the harbour: “This was not an attack on history. This is history.” You may believe that a statue to a man who traded in human flesh being pulled from the pedestal on which a previous generation had placed it was a criminal attack. You may believe that it was an act of liberation. In my view, it was probably both in exactly the same moment. However, what is clear is that lasting change has to be more than symbolic; it must become systemic.

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The “R Word” – What Schools must Learn about Race

The “R Word” – What Schools must Learn about Race

A few years ago, I was sitting in a parent-teacher conference. A black mum sat across the table from me as we discussed her son. By this time, I had been through a master’s program and had been asked to join a diversity committee. I considered myself a “good” white person, now “thinking” about racism (it was still an intellectual exercise for me). I was particularly troubled by this young black boy who “was not living up to his potential.” I felt that he could do more, but he was not. I expressed my oh-so condescending concern as, “Look at all I’m doing. Why won’t your son meet me halfway?” — a sentiment I have felt and heard in schools more times than I can count. This mum looked at me and said in a calm voice, “I think you’re being racist toward my son.” And what did I do? I doubled-downed. I proceeded to explain to this mum all the ways that I certainly was not racist, how much I had worked with her son, given him extra time. I had not written him off as so many other teachers had done, telling me that I shouldn’t waste my time with him. Couldn’t she see how “good” I was? I defended myself, and my whiteness, just as I had been taught to do by centuries of white superiority and white silence on this topic. Years later, I shudder when I recall this conversation. But I do so — and do so publicly — because it brings me to one central question: What if being called “racist” was the beginning, not the end, of the conversation? What if, instead of offering a ranting defensive of my intentions, I had taken this mum at her word? What if I considered that she might know her son’s experience better than I did? What if I had owned the outcome of my behaviour and considered with her how my work with her son was perpetuating racial stereotypes and prejudice? Do you think that might have impacted her son’s experience in my class? In the school? Do you think it would have made me a better teacher?

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The Headteacher Wellbeing Crisis in our Schools

The Headteacher Wellbeing Crisis in our Schools

With the recent publication of the Leeds Beckett University report into the impact of Leadership coaching in schools, we have undoubtably reached a point where the system as a whole, needs to recognise that the personal and professional development of Headteachers go side by side. As the report and others preceding it have cited, too many good Headteachers continue to leave the profession early or burnout, because the needs of the person in the role have been ignored. Coaching, as this report reveals, is an essential life-support system for our school leaders and must be recognised as such, if we are to enable our Heads to stay in the profession for the long haul.

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What I discovered at “Education for the Soul” 2019

What I discovered at “Education for the Soul” 2019

On 17th October 2019, we hosted our third ‘Education for the Soul’ conference. As I shared with delegates on the day; in 2016, when we hosted our very first conference, I was somewhat fearful and unsure. Not just because it was the first time, we had hosted a conference, but because I was fearful of the use of the word ‘Soul’ and how it would be perceived by others. As much as I knew that one-to-one with our coachees, there was/is a place for soul work; for conversations that go deep and beyond the surface of things, I was unsure of the degree to which this could be achieved collectively. Could we genuinely create an environment in which Heads and school leaders could safely let go of their leadership masks?

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