Coaching & Leadership Development
Keeping school leaders
hope alive today, for
our children’s hope of a
better tomorrow.
3 Gifts School Leaders Need this Christmas

3 Gifts School Leaders Need this Christmas

Although it’s a long time ago now, I remember vividly what it felt like being a school leader at this time of year, after the longest term, when the days are shortest and the summer sun seems so far off. As well as fatigue, which affected everyone, I suffered from a kind of ‘over-immersion’, as if I’d been under water for too long and was starved of oxygen. In this ‘glazed’ and unreal state, I would decide to put off such things as difficult conversations and creative challenges, if I could do so safely, until I was clearer in the New Year Like being caught in a thicket, I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. If I encountered negativity, I would find myself more likely to react negatively and compound the problem. Then it felt as if everyone around me was getting agitated.

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Why School Leader Well-being must be taken Seriously

Why School Leader Well-being must be taken Seriously

In the last few years, the teaching profession has made great strides when it comes to wellbeing. The rise of feedback instead of marking has undoubtedly had a dramatic impact on teacher workload in schools that have adopted it. Likewise, the accepted practice of centralised detentions has ensured teachers don’t spend their every free moment setting and chasing detentions. But truly, one of the most significant changes has been Ofsted pushing teacher wellbeing to the top of its agenda, suggesting that as a profession we are at least trying to do something to address it. Granted, it is still nowhere near close to perfect, but I certainly think it has improved in the last few years. However, despite these improvements, I don’t think that the wellbeing of a school’s senior leadership team has been properly considered. Now, I appreciate that there may be many people out there who are unsympathetic to the idea of senior leadership workload.

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The Evolving Role of an Executive Headteacher

The Evolving Role of an Executive Headteacher

What is an executive headteacher? Unlike the term “headteacher”, which is defined under section 35 and 36 of the Education Act 2002, there is currently no legal definition of what an “executive headteacher” (EHT) is or what they should do. To understand better this emerging role at NFER, we looked at the application packs of leadership jobs advertised in the national press, as well as 12 in-depth case studies. Using this qualitative data we were able to investigate the duties and skills that distinguish the Executive Headteacher. A Department for Education (DfE) definition considers that the “post of executive headteacher should be used for a headteacher who directly leads two or more schools in a federation or other partnership arrangement” (DfE, 2015). Our research largely supports this though we found that it does not wholly reflect the picture on the ground.

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See the Light! – The Power of Story

See the Light! – The Power of Story

Storytelling has an immense value in its own right – not just as a means of developing language skills or improving literacy. If we think of stories as merely a means to an end, we undervalue their true power and significance. And just because a story isn’t true doesn’t mean it lacks truth. I never ever say, ‘Well it’s JUST a story.’ It’s MORE than a story! The stories we tell each other have the power to change our lives. But what about the stories we sometimes tell to ourselves? Like the one about not having this or that skill; about not being up to the task ahead; about being good at this but not at that; about being this or that kind of person – stories that can leave us feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

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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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The Conversations Every New School Leader Needs

The Conversations Every New School Leader Needs

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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An Open Letter to Boris Johnson

An Open Letter to Boris Johnson

Dear Boris Johnson, I am writing to you with a plea at a time when your mind may well be on other matters but my plea is quite simple; please begin to listen to those in education who are on the front line. Our head teachers and school leaders who every day give their all as they seek to create better futures for our children. I write this letter to you as a former head teacher, who has been in the profession for over twenty five years. Although I left headship over thirteen years ago, I am now in schools nearly every day, providing coaching support for passionate school leaders.

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How to Rebuild Your Leadership Confidence

How to Rebuild Your Leadership Confidence

It’s an understatement to say that life as a school leader can be bruising. The impact of the responses of disgruntled staff, a poor OFSTED report, complaints from parents or conflict with governors can send even the most resilient of leaders into a downward mental spiral. When negative events occur, your confidence can take at hit. You can begin to feel as though you are not up to the job for which you have been appointed. From my own experience working with school leaders, nothing can be further from the truth. Many, if not all, are still up to the role. It’s simply that they need to be reminded of their own power within and steps they can take to feel like their former, confident selves again. If you are feeling at a bit of a low ebb now, because of events that you are facing as school leader, set a few minutes aside to read this short blog. See if you can identify at least one step that you can take to rebuild your leadership confidence again.

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4 Major Types of Educational Leadership

4 Major Types of Educational Leadership

There are four major styles of leadership which apply well in the educational setting. While each of these styles has its good points, there is a wide berth of variation, and in fact, transformational leadership is truly an amalgamation of the best attributes of the other three. So let’s explore how servant leadership, transactional leadership, and emotional leadership compare to transformational leadership…

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3 Things every Headteacher must Learn

3 Things every Headteacher must Learn

I have witnessed many a Headteacher brim with pride on appointment to their post; whether it be a first headship, second or third, there is always a sense of something great having been achieved. This pride often stems from an acknowledgment of the personal journey many have travelled to arrive at that place. It also stems from a hope and optimism about what they can achieve for the children and young people they have chosen to serve. Something that I have also witnessed is how ill-prepared our system is for properly equipping Heads, with the skills and knowledge for understanding the personal growth process that accompanies Headship. Scant attention is given to the psychological and emotional terrain that all will have to cross in order to successfully navigate the many challenges of the role.

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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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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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