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Our Blog Archive is organised into 8 key themes to make it easier for you to find posts on areas that are of particular importance to you:
It’ll probably come as no surprise to many, particularly those that know my story, that when I look back on my years as a Headteacher, my biggest regret is that I didn’t have a coach. I am certain my whole experience of headship would have been very different, if I’d had a trusted, external, companion to walk alongside me. Not just to problem solve and talk through the inherent challenges of the role, but for me personally, I just wish I’d had someone to accompany me through the major transitions that I experienced as a Head. When I look back there were three major transitions that I now know, I would have progressed through differently had I had a coach…LEARN MORE
Over the last few years, there’s been a growing understanding that; “talking of a work-life balance is too simplistic” and that we have become “collectively exhausted because of our inability to hold competing parts of ourselves together in a more integrated way” (David Whyte). This deepening understanding has come about as many have come to realise that the term “work-life balance” suggests that we have to split our time equally between our work and personal lives and in so doing barter one off against the others. The terminology forces individuals to think in terms of trade-offs and sacrifices – instead of the possibility for harmonising all aspects of our lives. The truth is all aspects of our lives inter-relate – work-life, home-life, personal-life, etc and they all have an impact on how we show up as individuals. To quote David Whyte again; “In the deeper hidden realms of the human psyche, work and life are not separate things and therefore cannot be balanced against each other, except to create further trouble.”LEARN MORE
Recently, I’ve been preparing myself for our first Free Authentic School Leadership workshop for Senior School Leaders and so to organise my thoughts for this inaugural event, I’ve been seeking to reflect on one central question: What does it mean to be an authentic school leader? My reflections on this question brought me to the work of author and authenticity expert, Brené Brown who defines it as “the choice to show up and be real, to be honest and let our true selves be seen”.LEARN MORE
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.LEARN MORE
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.LEARN MORE
It was the late Psychologist Carl Rogers who over forty years ago said; “Our educational system takes the view that the nature of the individual is such that he cannot be trusted. That he must be guided, instructed and controlled by those who are wise or higher in status. It does not matter that he was an American. His statement is just as true for the UK Education System. The evidence is clear for all to see; Guidance, instruction and control in our system has led to increased powers for some and decreased powers for others. It has led to the creation of a culture where many a school leader.LEARN MORE
Over the last few years, it’s fair to say that many changes have taken place in our education system that have transformed relationships between Headteachers. I remember back when I was a Headteacher in a local authority (LA), whilst it was by no means a perfect institution – they understood the importance of creating structures that fostered a strong sense of collegiality and camaraderie amongst its Head teachers. Yet sadly over the last few years, now many (if not most) LA’s have been dismantled. The increased emphasis on results and league tables has meant that Heads are now encouraged at every stage to compare and compete with local schools, in much the same way as businesses would.LEARN MORE
Many of us have, no doubt, experienced times or even situations when we have felt the need to act differently from what feels to be our true self. Sometimes this is because we believe that in order to succeed or gain approval, we have to alter our behaviour and show others a changed version of ourselves; one that we perceive others want us to be – a “false self” that we think will meet their expectations. In some situations, the “false self” acts as a very clever defence mechanism.LEARN MORE
People’s immediate answer to whether vulnerability is a suitable trait for a CEO would be absolutely not. Under no circumstances should a successful leader show any form of weakness. However, I feel this is too simple understanding of what ‘vulnerability’ means in the context of leadership. Rather than translating as “showing weakness”, I believe vulnerability can be better understood as a human characteristic that involves being more open, more sensitive and at times becoming a passive leader to allow the actions of others to develop and prevail. Jim Collins in his description of a Level 5 leader, describes an individual who displays both ‘humility’ and ‘will’ – both of which are key elements of vulnerability and are two traits with which I have tried to build my professional career upon. Certainly being ‘human’ and embedding empathy within our decision making could be interpreted as a softer more vulnerable side of leadership which can bring more positive change and motivation from those that we lead.LEARN MORE
As a coach, I trust myself to be able to create the type of 1:1 spaces where it is safe for the soul to be seen.
Spaces where School Leaders can come out from behind their leadership masks and explore what it means to live lives of authenticity and integrity, amidst the challenges and complexities of day to day school life. However, in hosting the ‘Education for the Soul’ Conference, I faced a new challenge.
The stress that headteachers are under continues to be reported – with the numbers leaving the profession a growing concern. For many, headship is a role that’s beginning to feel untenable. This echoes what I often hear from headteachers in my role as school leadership coach. The headteachers I speak to feel overwhelmed by shrinking budgets, the teacher recruitment crisis and the high-pressure inspection system. So what steps can they take to prevent burnout?LEARN MORE