Coaching & Leadership Development
Keeping school leaders
hope alive today, for
our children’s hope of a
better tomorrow.
How to Survive as a MAT CEO

How to Survive as a MAT CEO

Over the last few years I have moved from being the head of a single school, albeit on two sites, to CEO of a Multi Academy Trust serving over 4,000 students and employing about 700 staff. I love my job and the fantastic staff and students I get to work with every day, but the pressures of this changed role and the ever increasing demand for more have taken their toll. This year has probably been one of the hardest – and most rewarding – of my career. From a place of still figuring things out, there are five key observations I would like to make about how to survive as a leader and what my strategies will be going forwards.

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Are you considering quitting over excessive workload?

Are you considering quitting over excessive workload?

  We all know that the role of the school leader has changed dramatically and with it too, the increased demands that many school leaders face.   Yet, I firmly believe that it would be a great loss to us all, if many of our school leaders left the profession early, before ever seeing their dreams for themselves or their schools fulfilled.   If you are considering leaving the profession early these three top tips [which I have successfully used when coaching school leaders] will help you to stop, pause and reflect and to re-consider whether throwing the towel in at this stage in your career, is really what you want to do!   1. Re-visit your Vision as a School Leader   Take some time out and reflect on the reasons why you stepped into the school leadership role. What was it that you had hoped you could achieve? What was the legacy that you had hoped to leave behind?   It takes courage to have a big vision and as a school leader, wanting to make a difference to the lives of future generations, your vision will be bigger than most! If you can find a way to re-connect with your vision, you will be able to find a way to connect with what drives you…your passion, your purpose. Often this can be enough to re-fuel a tired, worn and weary soul.   2. Reflect on your values   It is highly likely that with the challenges that have arisen as the result of the new education reforms, that there will have been times when you will have found... LEARN MORE
The 3 Signs of Toxic School Culture

The 3 Signs of Toxic School Culture

Over the past few years, I’ve seen and heard the term “toxic school culture” or “toxic schools” being used to depict various situations in which there are qualities that negatively impact the performance, mental health or working environment in our schools. It’s a term that is a source of great debate, as what qualifies as a “toxic school culture” to one teacher or school leader is so very much dependent on context and the personalities/people involved. Having read some of the accounts from teachers and school leaders who have described their experiences of “toxic schools” and from my own experience in education, I would surmise that these experiences, are rarely caused by a wilful intent to toxify a school culture by any one party.

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Are our Schools Broken?

Are our Schools Broken?

“There’s a crack in everything and that’s how the light gets in.” This being the famous line from the Leonard Cohen song, “Anthem”. When we look at our schools today, many will argue as I have done, that there are cracks, that there are major fault lines across virtually all aspects of our education system and that that it is near to breaking point. Yet increasingly, it would seem to me, that wherever there are cracks, there are lights, there are beacons of hope; individuals, groups and organisations who are daring to speak out, who are daring to come together to mend the cracks within our system.

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Overcoming Stress as a Headteacher

Overcoming Stress as a Headteacher

It is my belief that more Headteachers would remain in the profession if, on appointment, it was made explicit to them the link between school improvement and their own personal development. Unfortunately, however, in today’s world of high public scrutiny and personal accountability, they are not and as a result far too many Heads become victims of stress and burn out, unable to cope with the intense psychological and emotional demands of the role.

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How do School Leaders Benefit from Coaching?

How do School Leaders Benefit from Coaching?

As you may have seen, recently I shared how the NUT (alongside Integrity Coaching) will be running a wonderful scheme to offer heavily subsidised coaching to all of its Headteacher members – the deadline of which is the end of April. This generous offer from the NUT has already attracted a spectrum of amazing Heads from different backgrounds and at various different stages of their headship journey.

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Why Heads Need to Learn to Share

Why Heads Need to Learn to Share

A while back, I attended a well-being conference for school leaders. An OFSTED inspector was one of the guest speakers. As the school leaders who were present aired their feelings about OFSTED and whether it was really fit for purpose, this inspector’s demeanour changed. Initially, he confidently told the audience what he believed they should be thinking and feeling about OFSTED. But he became nervous and agitated when the audience asked him to listen to their actual thoughts and feelings. It seemed that he was uncomfortable with the level of emotion in the room, and to have acknowledged that depth of feeling would have left him exposed and vulnerable. It is my belief that if he had dropped his guard – if only for a moment – he would have shown a more human side to OFSTED, which is what the delegates were desperate to see. Like all of us, they just wanted to be listened to.

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Why Budget Cuts hurt our Schools and their Leaders

Why Budget Cuts hurt our Schools and their Leaders

Earlier this year, the TES quoted a report by the NAHT that revealed, ‘65% of school leaders “strongly agree” that cutbacks have already had a negative impact on the performance of their schools.” In discussions related to the impact of spending cuts we have become used to reading about schools asking parents to contribute towards books and other essential supplies. We have become used to hearing about the pressure of increased class sizes, reduction in supply budgets and teachers taking on a raft of additional duties to cover posts that have been deleted. We hear all of this and quite naturally we understand how financial cuts have had a detrimental impact on the performance of many of our schools. However, there is an added dimension to the debate that is often missed. Since the global financial crisis austerity has been an ever-present part of the collective mindset.

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What really is Authentic Leadership?

What really is Authentic Leadership?

e often talk about being true to ourselves, but which self are we referring to? The ego or the unconditioned/true self? The ego is what psychologists refer to as our conditioned or learned self. It is that part of us that when we were younger, helped to give us our sense of identity. As we grew older our ego helped us to navigate the world of both inter and intra-personal relationships. We took external cues from others to help determine what was acceptable and what was not. In doing so, we often made unconscious adaptations to our behaviours. When in the company of others, these adaptations often served to help us feel safe and ultimately feel accepted.

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The 4 Skills of Authentic Leadership

The 4 Skills of Authentic Leadership

In leadership, we often talk about the need to be authentic, but what does this mean? At its root, authenticity involves being true to yourself and the essence of who you are as a person. Likewise, on a leadership level, it means making daily choices and actions that are aligned to your vision, values and your sense of vocation. Working with School Leaders, I have seen that when they lead with authenticity, integrity self-regulation and personal nourishment are hallmarks of their personal leadership style. The challenge is that in order for leaders to learn to lead authentically, they must first understand themselves. Because if we don’t know who we are, then how do we know when we are being authentic? Who is this person in this school leadership role and what is the basis of their decision making and relationship with others? To answer these important questions and help leaders develop the strong self-understanding that is essential for Authentic leadership, I believe there are 4 skills they must work on.

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Why Education Needs Values & Integrity

Why Education Needs Values & Integrity

With many other people I am deeply concerned about the global turmoil that is destabilising our world. As someone I met recently in the US put it, ‘It seems as though human kind is going mad!” We seem to be acting like lemmings about to rush over a cliff to our deaths. At a political, cultural and social level distress is clearly identifiable as the good of humanity and the world is set aside.

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My Appearance on Sky News – “Headteachers are Suffering”

My Appearance on Sky News – “Headteachers are Suffering”

Several weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be asked to appear on Sky News to share my thoughts on the Head Teacher recruitment and retention crisis. A topic which I believe to be of fundamental importance to our education system at this current moment in time. In my short stint on “The Point”, I discussed that according to three Educational Leadership organisations, English Schools may face a shortage of up to 19,000 Heads by 2022, findings which were also substantiated in a recent article in the Times.

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