Coaching & Leadership Development
Keeping school leaders
hope alive today, for
our children’s hope of a
better tomorrow.
4 Steps to Work-Life Harmony as a School Leader

4 Steps to Work-Life Harmony as a School Leader

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.”

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5 Tips for Reducing the Stress of Headship

5 Tips for Reducing the Stress of Headship

You would not have reached where you are today if you didn’t know how to harness the power of hope to help you overcome the stresses of school leadership. We know that hope can be incredibly elusive. When external demands and pressures mount and crisis follows crisis, the light at the end of the tunnel can appear to be very faint and distant glimmer. In such times, hope is just as essential for your own well-being, as rain is for flowers in the desert.

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What happens when Headteachers drop the Leadership Mask?

What happens when Headteachers drop the Leadership Mask?

If you are head teacher, then I am sure, this image will speak volumes to you! You know exactly what it takes each and every day to step into the role of Head teacher and enter a system that so often forgets that you are human. A system, which despite all the well-intentioned rhetoric, expects you to constantly withstand the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’. And, no matter how fast and furious they might be, requires that you always come out victorious, with an ever-present smile on your face.   However, I am sure you know as a Head, many a time life just isn’t like that. Those slings and arrows, whether from a colleague, an inspector, a parent or a Governor, can hurt. They can pierce the soul and leave you feeling utterly down-spirited and disheartened.   It is because of this fact and working closely as we do, with Head teachers, that we decided to host our termly Headteacher’s Nurture Meals. We wanted to do something, that clearly said to Head teachers,    ‘You are of value; you are of worth and you have the right to have your needs met’   We are always very clear in our purpose. This was designed not to be one of those Head teacher gathering where individuals met with their peers, but still felt the need to be to wear their leadership mask or suit of armour, for fear of being judged or criticised for anything that they might say. We wanted to make sure this was different.   Different…. But how? Well … we create a loose framework for discussion, but in the... LEARN MORE
The 5 Characteristics of Great School Culture

The 5 Characteristics of Great School Culture

  Recently, we announced the launch of our latest cohort of our 4 Day Coaching Programme to Maximise School Performance.   In preparation for the programme, I have been reflecting on the features of school cultures that serve to grow adults and foster outstanding staff performance.   As I did so, I was reminded of research carried out by Stoll and Fink at the Institute of Education. Their research identified a number of school cultural norms that they cite as evidence for strong, positive school cultures.   They assert that if these norms are weak or non-existent within a school, then growth and development at both an individual and organisational level are severely hampered.   Out of the norms which they identified, I believe there are five that are essential, for creating genuine school cultures in which all adults and young people thrive.   As you read through these, I’d encourage you to reflect on each of the norms below and perhaps consider these questions:   – To what extent are these norms present in your school culture? – Which norms are strengths and would act as enablers for the development of a positive culture in your school? – Which norms are weaknesses/areas for development and might act as potential barriers for the development of a positive culture in your school? – What strategies could be developed for overcoming these barriers?   1. Shared Goals & Vision – We know where we’re going   When individuals are empowered to take ownership of their goals it can cause a shift in the culture of a school. As individuals learn how to work in alignment with the school’s vision and values, a new set of relationship... LEARN MORE
Secret Headteacher – What Every Governor Needs to Know About Supporting Headteachers

Secret Headteacher – What Every Governor Needs to Know About Supporting Headteachers

For the last three years, I have been the headteacher at a special needs school. When I first joined the school, it was very much going through a difficult period of transition. The head and the deputy head had both left at the same time, and so had left the school without any real leadership and in a state of instability. So I was brought in, relatively inexperienced and without any real leadership support, to make some substantial changes.

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Why Headteachers Need to Learn to Reflect

Why Headteachers Need to Learn to Reflect

As a Head there are many questions that you are called to answer; questions for which you very often have to justify, defend or give account for your actions and decisions made. These questions are very much bound up in the ‘doing’ of the role, the day to day actions by which much of your role is defined. There are however, another set of questions, which I believe many Heads are called to answer, when they step into the role. Although the reality is, that the frenetic nature of school leadership means that many never even realise this. As a result, they trudge through the day to day, not knowing, not realising, that their inner dis-ease is a call to stop, pause and reflect and to pay attention to the deeper questions of the soul/the person in the role.

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“How 12 Years of Headship changed me” – Headteacher Story

“How 12 Years of Headship changed me” – Headteacher Story

I am the Headteacher of a large school (we have 535 children on role), based quite centrally in Cardiff. It serves a very diverse catchment area; with children coming from predominantly professional/affluent households, alongside a few from deprived backgrounds. When I first heard about the NEU (then the NUT) offer of fully subsidised professional Coaching, I had been a headteacher for twelve years. I was five years into my second headship, and recently undertaken a temporary executive headship of another large primary school. Over the past twelve years as a Head, I had given so much of myself, that it had been to the detriment of looking after my own well-being. While things professionally were going well, I was completely burnt out. I was running on empty.

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What are the habits of an Effective MAT CEO?

What are the habits of an Effective MAT CEO?

In 2013, I was appointed to the position of Headteacher having been Deputy Headteacher in the School since 2010. Following a rigorous external advert and interview process I was in the fortunate position of being able to continue the work that I had already started in changing the school in its journey to becoming Ofsted outstanding which it finally achieved in 2017. 2013 was a very important year in my career development and remains a time which I reflect upon now that I have moved from Headteacher to CEO. Two small but significant things happened. Firstly, following my appointment to my first Headship, the then retiring Headteacher came into my office smiling and through a book on my desk telling me to read it. He left chuckling to himself. The book was entitled ‘What got you here, won’t get you there’.

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What Happens When Leaders Find Headspace

What Happens When Leaders Find Headspace

When I look back on my time as a Headteacher, time never stood still. There was an abundance of meetings to hold, opportunities to be taken advantage of, problems to solve, fires to put out… Yet, there was always a shortage of what I needed most …time and space. Time to be still and space to think and feel. In the frenetic life of a school leader time and space are rare commodities. By not affording time to reflect on lessons learnt, people can find themselves repeatedly making the same mistakes. The lack of space also limits avenues to explore and process the emotional aspects of the role. As a result, life as a leader can feel mentally, emotionally and physically intense. This level of intensity, which most school leaders experience, usually brings exhaustion and too often leads to ill-health and burnout. Increasingly, ill-health and stress-related issues have made us more aware of the need to protect the mental health of our young people, our teachers and school leaders. We have come to realise that time and space are important conditions for a healthy life and sustained hard work.

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#WomenEd – Why it’s So Much More than a Movement

#WomenEd – Why it’s So Much More than a Movement

This week’s blog comes from Maria Alex O’Neill (@DaringOptimist), co-founder of HealthyToolkit HQ, teacher, coach, passionate Womened advocate and organiser of the upcoming WomenEd West Midlands regional event. #WomenEd, what is it? According to the website, ‘‘#WomenEd is a grassroots movement which connects existing and aspiring leaders in education.’’

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