Coaching & Leadership Development
Keeping school leaders
hope alive today, for
our children’s hope of a
better tomorrow.
4 Tips to Better Self-Care as a School Leader

4 Tips to Better Self-Care as a School Leader

The press, media and study after study tells us that Headteacher recruitment and retention is in crisis, nevertheless there are many things school leaders can do to make sure they’re not another one of those burnout statistics. The NFER survey in 2016 showed that increasing numbers of Headteachers are leaving the profession before retirement age, with many articles and leaders themselves citing the intense pressures and challenges of the job, unrealistic targets, a loss of passion and a lack of support as responsible for this. Meanwhile, in a survey undertaken by the National Governor’s Association in September 2015, 43% of 4,383 respondents reported it was difficult to find good candidates when recruiting senior leaders for similar reasons. In light of this, perhaps it is no surprise that England could be facing a shortage of up to 19,000 senior teachers by 2022.

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What Headteachers should be told before they’re appointed!

What Headteachers should be told before they’re appointed!

  Recently, I’ve been pondering one question: How do Headteachers find the time and space to develop the aptitudes necessary to show up as their true authentic and best self, when they are in a profession that requires;   – A deeply forensic approach to the analysis of pupil outcomes – Lightning quick responses to demands of all kinds and, – Consistently high levels of visibility   The answer I most often hear in response to this question, is:   ‘There quite simply isn’t enough time to focus on me. I spend all of my time and more [i.e. evenings and weekends] focusing on school improvement, because that’s what I’m here to do – to focus on the children and teachers, not me.”   When I hear this response, I find myself thinking, that sounds just like me when I was a Head. When I was told only one side of the School Leadership Story.   It’s all about the job description, or is it?   Before I was appointed to my first post as a Headteacher around seventeen years ago, I read and believed that I fully understood the Job description and person spec. I wrote an application form that demonstrated my leadership skills, knowledge and experience.   I performed so well at interview [despite being eight and a half months pregnant], that I convinced the panel, I could do what the job was asking of me on paper and take the school out of Special Measures…   And therein lies the rub. Did you fall for it too? Did you mistakenly believe that when you applied for the Head... LEARN MORE
Understanding & Managing Emotions – What I’ve Learnt

Understanding & Managing Emotions – What I’ve Learnt

I believe I have always been fairly sensitive to other people’s feelings. This was confirmed once by completing the Myers Briggs Temperament Index. Though I don’t regret it, this sensitivity made my job as a school leader more difficult, not easier, especially as I didn’t know as much about emotions then as I do now. I see now that I was actually quite scared by very strong emotions in others, probably because, deep down, I was scared of some un-felt, un-processed emotions in myself. I would therefore often take refuge either in rationalising or closing them down altogether. However, through my TA psychotherapy training, I’ve learned that the purpose of emotions is to elicit understanding and evoke a response. It’s how babies learn to survive. How successfully we managed this in our infancy, with the vital involvement of our care-givers, will affect our attachment style (i.e. relationships) for life.

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Why our Schools Need Authentic Leaders

Why our Schools Need Authentic Leaders

  It truly saddens me to say this, but it is my belief that one of the unfortunate legacies of recent educational reform has been the fuelling of egocentric approaches to school improvement.   Government policy has enabled investment that has assisted the creation of personal power bases, rather than an education system in which all truly flourish.   For those heads and school leaders who have sought to maintain an altruistic approach to their roles, the constant question many have struggled with is; “How, within the current realities of the education system, can I maintain my original ideals and lead with true authenticity?”   The school leaders who ask this question are the brave and courageous ones. They are the ones who are prepared to do the ‘inner work’ of school leadership and ask the deep questions that will ensure that they remain rooted in their values and what they know to be true. They are the authentic leaders.   And, make no mistake, like never before, we need these authentic leaders. We need them at the helm of our schools for 3 key reasons:   1. Every child has the right to flourish   For this to be true our school leaders need to flourish. School leaders cannot and do not flourish when they are leading from a place that is a lesser version of their true/best self. It simply isn’t possible.   Within us all there is a desire to reach forward, to grow. However, when this is thwarted, whether through fear, the misuse of power, etc., individuals adopt behaviours that keep them and their aspirations... LEARN MORE
What every Headteacher needs to know about Overcoming Stress

What every Headteacher needs to know about Overcoming Stress

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 Public Scrutiny in Education has gone too far…

Why Public Scrutiny in Education has gone too far…

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.

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Why Heads must NOT see fellow Leaders as Competitors

Why Heads must NOT see fellow Leaders as Competitors

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.

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Developing Resilient & Authentic Leadership

Developing Resilient & Authentic Leadership

I have worked as a Head for 20 years. I was appointed to my first post of Headteacher in 1998 after covering for a year for my substantive Head who decided to take early retirement after a bout of ill health. After 9 years, I then moved to one of the first Co-Headships in the Borough, for a period of 5 years and then onto a full-time role as Head in a different school for a further 5 year. I returned to a Co-Headship for my final year as a Head before I started working full time as a coach. Suffice to say, overall, I did enjoy the challenges of Headship. As a teacher I had had bucketloads of creativity, but realised as time passed in the early years, as a Headteacher, that my creativity had been squeezed, year after year, dampened by reports, data, and more. As I unpicked my thinking, I realised that I had also started to hide my authentic self. I found myself distancing myself from the staff and sharing less and less, eager to take on the perceived notion of what a Head should do. I spent more time at home working, rather than relaxing. As a Head with young children, I did not have any time for me and any downtime was napping in front of the TV. There was a distinct lack of creative endeavour. More worryingly, over the last ten years as a Head, I had very effectively stopped giving myself any time.

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Leading with Authenticity – The Cost of Not Being Yourself

Leading with Authenticity – The Cost of Not Being Yourself

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.

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My Guardian Article – Tips for Headteachers to help prevent Burnout

My Guardian Article – Tips for Headteachers to help prevent Burnout

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?

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Why Education Needs Values & Integrity more than Ever – Neil Hawkes

Why Education Needs Values & Integrity more than Ever – Neil Hawkes

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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