Coaching & Leadership Development
Keeping school leaders
hope alive today, for
our children’s hope of a
better tomorrow.
What is the role of a Headteacher?

What is the role of a Headteacher?

Recently a colleague shared with me, that when the Masai Warriors of Kenya greet each other they ask, “How are the children?” They ask this, because for everyone, even those without children, the response that they are seeking is, “All the children are well.” As according to their social script, things can’t be fully good for one individual or the community unless all the children are thriving. Mac Macartney speaks of something similar when he recounts the symbolic lighting of the “Children’s Fire” amongst the indigenous people of North America.

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Well-being, Purpose and Community

Well-being, Purpose and Community

Having been in education for several decades now, I’ve had plenty of chance to witness what leadership at its very best looks like in our schools. In that time, I’ve observed how great leadership often comes when individuals feel empowered from the inside out, are able to take decisions that are right for their own settings and on a personal level, they are emotionally and psychologically ok. However, I’ve also seen how the circumstances of our education system in the last few years has begun to hinder this, such as the undercurrent of fear that now exists within our profession resulting from an accountability system – that at times, has seemed to be more punitive than supportive. Meanwhile, there has also been rising stress levels amongst Heads, who are increasingly expected to manage change that is driven by external forces and in a direction that many feel is the wrong one, such as the imposed Curriculum a few years ago and enforced academisation more recently.

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The Inner Work of a School Leader

The Inner Work of a School Leader

Contained within the wisdom traditions of North America’s First Nation people are many teachings that relate directly to leadership. A central teaching is that of the Twin Trail. Like so many other threads of wisdom emerging from indigenous peoples, the Twin Trail reflects a deep understanding of our human psychology. The Twin Trail refers to the inner life; that we all must attend to if we are to lead ourselves (and others) with integrity, authenticity and purpose. It also speaks to our capacity as humans to make moral choices. In a challenging encounter that I had with my First Nation mentors in 1998, the Twin Trail was described to me in this manner

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How Coaching Transforms Staff Performance in Schools

How Coaching Transforms Staff Performance in Schools

The frustrations, pressures, and challenges teachers face test their self-esteem, energy and dedication every day. To preserve throughout their careers the vision with which the best of them started – to hold fast to the idea that the business they are in is that of setting minds on fire – is a heroic project. It is a project that all teachers and school leaders face, one that is about learning to bring out the best in themselves and others. It is a project that is as much about ensuring their pupils are emotionally intelligent, as it is about ensuring that they are numerate and literate. It is about ensuring that they leave school with levels of emotional maturity and insight that will enable them to develop positive relationships with individuals from all walks of life. It is about a human quest where the prize should not just be a ranking on government league tables, but building generations of young people who possess a healthy sense of self- worth and belief in their own capabilities and potential, ready to stride forward and to make their own dreams reality.

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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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How Headteachers can develop their Emotional Resilience

How Headteachers can develop their Emotional Resilience

With the increasing pace of change in our schools and heightened levels of public scrutiny and accountability, it takes a great deal of courage and bravery to be a school leader today.
There are many joys involved in the role, but equally as many challenges. It is not until many school leaders reach headship, that they realise that the stresses of the job are such that they need to strengthen their emotional resilience in order to both thrive and survive. One of the reasons is, the rules of the game keep changing. As a result, school leaders become unsure of which rules to play by. Imagine saying to a child, “Today I am going to teach you how to play tennis” and every time they thought they had mastered how to serve and felt confident in their own abilities [ based upon what you had told them] you then said to them “No, you’ve got it wrong. You now have to do it this way.”

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The 3 Responsibilities of Every Headteacher

The 3 Responsibilities of Every Headteacher

When I became a Head, the weight of responsibility often weighed heavy on my shoulders. More often than not, this was due to the fact that any responsibility towards the meeting of my own needs, I unconsciously placed second. Not realising that doing so only added to the pressures that I felt. It was only after many a dark night of the soul and more than a few tears, that I came to realise that true, authentic success was very much going to be dependent on the degree to which I took responsibility for how I engaged with the pressures of the role and the commitments/promises that I was prepared to make to myself. Every school leader that I have had the privilege to work with has travelled a similar path. As I have journeyed with them, I have come to see that much like myself, in my early days of Headship, their path towards success has deepened when they have learned to accept three key responsibilities about the role. Many of these responsibilities were in fact commitments; promises that they made to themselves to help ensure that they stayed true to their own leadership path and were not unduly swayed by the inevitable challenges that so often arise. Here’s what these 3 key commitments were…

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3 Coaching Skills you need as a School Leader

3 Coaching Skills you need as a School Leader

Good coaches and indeed good school leaders are able to communicate a belief in people’s potential and an expectation that they can do their best. Their tacit message is… “I believe in you. I’m investing in you, and I expect your best efforts. As a result, people sense that a leader cares, so they feel motivated to uphold their own standards for performance, and they feel accountable for how well they do.” For those that line manage others, it is essential that they have the skills that will have a strong, direct, positive impact on staff levels of motivation, and improve standards for all. Many of the skills required for this type of impact stem from coaching. Coaching is a broad term for a process that is concerned with bringing out the best in others. There are a wide spectrum of skills that coaches develop over time to assist both the personal and professional growth process. For school leaders seeking to develop both their coaching competence and confidence there are three key coaching skills that are the foundations for success when working with others.

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“Education for the Soul” 2017  – Conference Report

“Education for the Soul” 2017 – Conference Report

On the 19th October 2017, Head teachers & School Leaders from across the country joined us for our Inaugural “Education for the Soul” Conference. Our purpose was to provide a different type of school leadership conference; one that would provide a space for school leaders to explore new and sustainable ways of leading that would enable them to overcome the stresses of their roles and maintain their ability to lead and inspire others. Unlike other School Leadership conferences, the day aimed to provide a unique opportunity and space for… Reflection – Where leaders could be themselves and reflect with like-minded colleagues on the aspects of school leadership that mattered most to them. Learning – Where leaders could deepen their personal knowledge and gain a better understanding of how wellbeing contributes to personal performance and school outcomes. Creativity – Where leaders could explore solutions, practical ideas and suggestions for bringing their visions to life. Collegiality – Where leaders could laugh, share and have time to talk with others about how to achieve the very best for themselves and those they lead and manage

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The NEU offer Headteachers Free Coaching Support

The NEU offer Headteachers Free Coaching Support

It’s almost thirty years ago, when as a newly qualified teacher, I signed up to become a member of the NUT. Like many new teaching recruits, I signed up because I believed in the union’s values of equality, fairness and social justice. These very same values are held by many Heads who still hold NUT membership. Yet we know with the deluge of change that has occurred over the past decade, the struggle to hold onto one’s values has become an increasingly difficult and lonesome task.

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