Coaching & Leadership Development
Keeping school leaders
hope alive today, for
our children’s hope of a
better tomorrow.
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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Why Every Teacher should do Race Identity Work

Why Every Teacher should do Race Identity Work

As an educator, my main job is to advocate for my students — and to help them advocate for themselves. To do this, I have to get to know my students and see them as individuals with unique life experiences. But first, I need to know myself. I have to understand my racial identity and confront any personal biases I may have. These biases can affect our work and hinder our students. This year more than ever, this self-work is important as we head back to school. The current events around racial injustice and the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately affect communities of colour, especially Black communities. We have to understand the challenges our students are facing. Taking a close look at ourselves is hard, but it can ultimately help our students thrive.

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How to Build a Culture of Kindness in Your School

How to Build a Culture of Kindness in Your School

When kindness and wellbeing are central to a school’s ethos, staff and teachers thrive. The school becomes a positive place to work, retention rates go up and a true sense of community is fostered. In a workplace where staff feel valued and appreciated, this feeling can be experienced by all those who come to the school. In my early days as a supply teacher in the UK, I could walk around a school and tell pretty quickly the ones in which staff were happy. There would be laughter in the staffroom, a friendly reception from the headteacher and an appreciation for my work. In a school where wellbeing was not of importance, staff tended to avoid the staffroom and were clearly stressed, which made the environment feel unwelcoming. So, how can you go about fostering a culture of kindness and a feeling of wellbeing at your school?

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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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Why Schools Must Keep Tackling Racism a Priority

Why Schools Must Keep Tackling Racism a Priority

I joined the school in 2005 as a Teacher of English. When I joined, I thought to myself, “This school’s amazing. We have students of all different backgrounds, with so many different languages spoken. We have multi-cultural celebrations, we celebrate diversity through dance and music and many subjects and activities … ” etc. So, when in 2020, we were confronted with the idea that actually we haven’t done enough, that we weren’t doing everything we could be doing to serve our community and be an anti-racist school, as Headteacher, proud of our diversity and service, it was a very hard pill to swallow. Even up to a couple years ago, if somebody had said or even implied that part of the way we do things as a school was racist, I’d have recoiled in defensive horror. I wouldn’t have known where to put myself, except for probably being quite embarrassingly defensive about it. Yet looking back now, whilst we would absolutely do our best to deal with incidents around race if and when they occurred and did lots to celebrate racial and cultural diversity – in truth, we hadn’t done any deep work to tackle racism and the tensions that may lie under the surface in our school, that were going unspoken. A number of us (including me) had worked with Integrity Coaching before. I knew that they would perfect to help us address this.

Becoming an Anti-Racist School – A Governor’s Story

Becoming an Anti-Racist School – A Governor’s Story

Like many people, I felt a mix of horror and outrage at the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. But this time, it didn’t feel enough. It really brought home to me and to many, that racism isn’t just an issue in the States, systemic racism is alive and well and thriving in the UK. I think previously the UK has always let itself off the hook by being like, “well, we’re not as racist as America, we’re a multicultural society” but the events of last year showed that racism is part and parcel of the lived experience of people of colour here. Particularly, as I’m also a chair of governors of a large girls’ comprehensive school with large number of students of colour, the personal impact, and the extra weight of responsibility I felt was striking. It made me realise that if this has impacted so much on me as a white person, then what are the students of colour in our school feeling? If I feel that horror and outrage, what must they be feeling?’ As a school, it made us realise that we could no longer pretend that racism happens out there, but not within our school gates.

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
10 Qualities of Successful School Leaders

10 Qualities of Successful School Leaders

Educational leaders play a pivotal role in affecting the climate, attitude and reputation of their schools. They are the cornerstone on which learning communities function and grow. With successful school leadership, schools become effective incubators of learning, places where students are not only educated but challenged, nurtured and encouraged. On the other hand, poor or absent school leadership can undermine the goals of an educational system. When schools lack a strong foundation and direction, learning is compromised, and students suffer. According to a Wallace Foundation study, “Leadership is second only to classroom instruction as an influence on student learning.” But what makes a successful school leader? How do you become truly effective as a Headteacher or in a leadership position? While there is no one solution to successful school leadership, there are certain strategies, skills, traits and beliefs that many of the most effective school leaders share. I believe the following traits are common among the most successful school leaders…

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Why Every Teacher should do Race Identity Work

Why Every Teacher should do Race Identity Work

As an educator, my main job is to advocate for my students — and to help them advocate for themselves. To do this, I have to get to know my students and see them as individuals with unique life experiences. But first, I need to know myself. I have to understand my racial identity and confront any personal biases I may have. These biases can affect our work and hinder our students. This year more than ever, this self-work is important as we head back to school. The current events around racial injustice and the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately affect communities of colour, especially Black communities. We have to understand the challenges our students are facing. Taking a close look at ourselves is hard, but it can ultimately help our students thrive.

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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.

My Heartfelt Letter to Every School Leader

My Heartfelt Letter to Every School Leader

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.”

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What I learned at “Education for the Soul” 2018

What I learned at “Education for the Soul” 2018

On 19th October 2018, we held our second “Education for the Soul” Conference. The theme for this year’s conference was, “Creating new narratives for the school leader’s journey”. Perhaps not your everyday common theme for a school leader’s conference, but if there is one thing we are certain about at Integrity, it’s that we are not going to follow the standard, traditional format for our conferences. And so it was for this year’s conference, that we chose to further support school leaders by enabling them to consider the role their stories play in their lives as educators.

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