Coaching & Leadership Development
Keeping school leaders
hope alive today, for
our children’s hope of a
better tomorrow.
How to Lighten the Burden of School Leadership

How to Lighten the Burden of School Leadership

In every headteacher or school leader’s office, there is an invisible bucket of rocks. They may be squirrelled away under their desk near their feet or they may be up on a shelf, nestled amongst the folders and files. Sometimes, the bucket is almost empty; sometimes, the rocks can be seen spilling out over the rim of the bucket and gathering in small piles around its base. Some of these rocks are fragile and flinty, prone to breaking in sharp shards should they be handled in the wrong way. Some are barely more than clumps of sand, on the surface, seemingly firm and strong but ready to crumble under the slightest pressure. Others are shining polished glittering pieces of stardust, twinkling with promise; among the rest of the bucket are jagged and tearing pieces of layered rock, ready to skin your hands should you reach out to help them. Towards the bottom are endlessly heavy rocks, although small in size, dense and almost un-liftable, such is their deceptive weight. Between the bigger rocks lie multiple tiny pebbles, some beautifully smooth and polished, others spiky and rough. The bucket is invisible, yet it is carried everywhere the leader goes. Sometimes swinging the empty invisible bucket cheerfully as they go around their daily business and other days simply staring at the bucket, almost cowed by its weight and seemingly without the strength to lift it alone.

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Why Heads Leave – The 3 Key Reasons

Why Heads Leave – The 3 Key Reasons

Every time, I sit with a Headteacher as their coach, I become acutely aware of the amount of energy they expend in seeking to do what is right for them and right for their schools. It is not an easy task. Many find themselves in situations where it seems impossible to see the wood for the trees and if they are not supported to find their own way forward, they may inadvertently end up following someone else’s. More often than not, this other path can end up being the wrong path and for the reasons cited in the above quote, can lead to good people leaving the profession. To understand why this happens and why there is still such a high rate of attrition amongst Heads, we need to deepen our understanding of three key things that happen to Heads when they ‘temporarily mobilise energy in service to goals’ that are not their own…

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Coronavirus – The 3 Steps to Surviving a Crisis

Coronavirus – The 3 Steps to Surviving a Crisis

This blog comes from an ex-secondary Headteacher, trainee therapist and Integrity Coaching Associate, Tim Small.    Many things can cause a crisis in a School, more often than not – they result from a set of circumstances which are often caused by things entirely out of one’s control as a school leader.   This has never been true since the coronavirus outbreak caused schools to shut back in March. 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.   Given this pressure and enormous amount of change is also happening alongside many leaders’ personal circumstances, it is understandable to experience quite significant psychological upheaval.   With this upheaval leaders can begin to feel overwhelmed and helpless in the situation.   If this is the case for you, here’s three things you should do to regain a sense of agency and give yourself the best chance of surviving a crisis like this…    1. Remember Your Oxygen Mask   Firstly, I have learned that how you feel is more to do with your inner state than what’s going on out there.  When I’ve slept well and feel physically and mentally OK, I somehow feel ‘bigger’ and problems seem ‘smaller’.  They even seem to matter less, although I am still driven to solve them as best I can.  The difference is that I have some energy to do so.  Fatigue, on the other hand, makes us turn in on ourselves and it becomes even harder to face the world.   The first piece of advice,... LEARN MORE
Coronavirus Crisis – 3 Tips for Effective School Leadership

Coronavirus Crisis – 3 Tips for Effective School Leadership

“My NPQH didn’t prepare me for this,” said a school leader on Twitter this week. As a leader, I have had to deal with many challenges in my career, including gangsters, the murder of children, and the death of members of staff. But I cannot think of anything in my whole career that even comes close to requiring the amount of bravery and dedication that I am seeing now from teachers, from school leaders and from others in public service all over the country. No development programme can possibly prepare leaders to help them to deal with the current issues and challenges that they face. We are in uncharted territory. Evidence-based strategies that can tell you which actions are likely to be more effective just don’t apply. The impact of coronavirus means that school leaders are being required to make decisions that could save or endanger hundreds of lives, with very little guidance to help them. Many are feeling scared, isolated, stressed and overwhelmed. But every day they are going to work and showing the leadership that is needed from them. In 2010, I made a speech on servant leadership. I said that servant leaders don’t ask themselves, “What kind of leader do I want to be?” Instead, they ask themselves: “What kind of leadership is wanted of me?”

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Why Headteachers Need Different Support to Teachers

Why Headteachers Need Different Support to Teachers

Everyone can use support in their careers. But what many people don’t realise is that the further you progress in your career, the more support you need. Many assume that once you climb to the Head teacher post that. Either support is no longer required or you require a similar level of support to that received in previous posts. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is, the role of Head teacher is markedly different from any other teaching or leadership post that you might have held; strategically and operationally, mentally and emotionally. It is for these reasons that Heads need support that is bespoke and tailored to meet the specific personal and professional challenges of the role.

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Why Even the Best Mentor is no Replacement for a Coach

Why Even the Best Mentor is no Replacement for a Coach

When you step into the Head teacher role, it is quite common for you to be offered a Mentor. An individual who has been there before, who can show you the ropes and who will share their wisdom, knowledge and experience with you. But… a Mentor is different from a Coach. A lot of people think that they do pretty much the same thing, but actually, a coach takes care of crucial support needs that a mentor simply isn’t trained for. Even the best school leadership mentor can’t replace the support you can get from a coach — and here’s why: You’re not your role; you’re a person in a role. Mentoring is fantastic for developing yourself in the context of your role. It’s largely focused on the external things, like developing your skills for operations, navigating your first governor’s meeting, preparing your reports. But it doesn’t focus on the inner growth that’s necessary to really step into your new role and make it your own. At best, it’s a fantastic way to learn strategies and skills.

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Staying Grounded – How to Lead Positively in a Crisis

Staying Grounded – How to Lead Positively in a Crisis

In times of crisis, such as the one we are currently facing, it’s natural for our minds to become dominated by loss, or the threat of loss. In our current climate, loss has taken centre stage in our social consciousness. Depending on individual circumstances, losses might range from something as simple as missing routine stimuli, to cancelled plans or holidays, to financial losses, even to the agony of losing someone we love. With rolling media coverage heightening the removal of so much we’ve taken for granted, it is all too easy for fear, anxiety and stress to weigh us down and crush our spirits. In such times, we must hold on to what matters and be ready to let go of everything else. We must work out how to progress, from a narrow focus on our loss of normality to awareness of the opportunities that may now be open to us, which our previously overcrowded agendas might have been depriving us of. So that we can do this, here are three ways to stay grounded and positive, in our self-leadership and leadership of others…

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How to Develop a Reflective Practice as a Headteacher

How to Develop a Reflective Practice as a Headteacher

As a Headteacher at an inner-city primary school, my to-do list is ever lengthening, so having enough time for strategic thinking and reflection can be rare. Each week I try to plan time in but if a child protection issue or something urgent crops up, it can’t just be ignored. External demands – such as the pressure to meet targets, changes in the curriculum, league tables etc – can also leave you feeling pulled in too many directions. That’s why I think one of the most significant things the training I’ve undertaken in my career is the importance of strategic thinking and reflective thinking. In secondary schools, a headteacher or principal will have a much bigger support network in their senior leadership team, allowing them to take a more strategic view. Meanwhile, at primary level, school leaders are much more involved in the day-to-day running of the school. However, whether you are primary or secondary Head, I believe a reflective practice should be the norm for school leaders. Here’s why…

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The Role of a Headteacher – Podcast

The Role of a Headteacher – Podcast

Back in May 2017, I was delighted to be invited by the Evolve Team to discuss the unique and changing role of a school leader. As part of this, I shared learnings from my own experience of Headship as we explored the emotional and psychological challenges that school leaders now face in the role and common pitfalls that leaders can fall into as they try to deliver the best outcomes for their schools. To build on this, we also addressed a number of topics including: – The loneliness of the headteacher role – Why headteachers need to find the space to process recent events, issues and challenges – The sacrifice syndrome that many school leaders suffer from and how to overcome the issues it presents – The important “inner work” that headteachers must do to stay focussed, build a greater self-understanding and maintain equilibrium – The importance of self-compassion, self-care and support Supporting yourself in the role…   When you are working in a school, engaging day-to-day with children and their families, teachers, support staff, governors and other adults, you know that in addition to expending great amounts of mental and physical energy, you expend equal (if not more) amounts of energy meeting the emotional needs of others.   If you don’t invest the time in meeting your needs, you can end up carrying a huge emotional debt and become increasingly emotionally overdrawn, with no readily identifiable means for bringing your emotional account back into credit.   This is particularly dangerous if you’re like most Heads in our school system, you’re incredibly under-supported. There’s no one you can talk to who... LEARN MORE
What is Authentic Leadership?

What is Authentic Leadership?

Leadership has never been a hotter topic. Distrust of those at the top seems to be at an all-time high, with politicians and high-profile chief executives repeatedly found to be lacking integrity. People want to be led by someone real; an authentic leader. But what does that mean? How do authentic leaders lead and behave? How can we distinguish the authentic leader from the tyrant? These questions are important when we are looking for the leaders of a country, but they are just as crucial when we think about the leaders of our schools. Kamagra jelly from Kama pharmacy worked for me in 2 hours and lasted until 16 hours. It is better to take it half an hour before lunch, it will digest before you go to dinner and will not mix with food for better results.

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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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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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