Coaching & Leadership Development
“Growing the Next Generation” – Unleashing Potential in your MAT

“Growing the Next Generation” – Unleashing Potential in your MAT

This blog comes from Emma Bone, Executive Headteacher at the Learning Academy Partnership (LAPSW) For me, in my role as Executive Head within a MAT, excellence in leadership is fundamentally about growing the next generation of leaders and this takes time and investment. It is not a ‘quick win’ or ‘gimmick’ but investing in people and time to engage in ‘collateral learning’ pays huge dividends – stretches people outside their comfort zone and has the potential to be golden and transformational! Within a hardwired MAT, there are a myriad of opportunities to spot that emerging next layer of potential leaders and craft their pathway through the experiences that we offer them across the Trust; only made possible through a ‘deep’ knowledge of all of our schools and the way our Senior Executive Team work as one. Whilst the role of Executive Leadership is not pinned down, research commonly states that those in Executive Headship have three main strategic priorities: – Improvement (e.g. addressing school underperformance) – Expansion (e.g. increasing management capacity and efficiency) – Partnerships (e.g. forming and growing a school grouping). In order to achieve these priorities, the role must necessarily focus on: strategic thinking; school-to school consistency and collaboration; coaching and staff development (particularly, building leadership capacity); and an outward focus. Underpinning all of these these those is the building of trust and a focus on spotting and unleashing talent in order to achieve the best for all of our children. Over the last few years I have been fortunate enough to be involved in developing and facilitating an aspiring leaders programme for our Trust alongside other...
4 Tips to Better Self-Care as a School Leader

4 Tips to Better Self-Care as a School Leader

This blog comes from IC Associate, executive coach and author of bestselling book “101 Playground Games and 101 Wet Playtime Games and Activities”, Thérèse Hoyle.   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.   Most of us came into the profession because we had a vision of how we thought education should be, we loved children, had an enthusiasm for our subject and wanted to make a difference.   Sadly, with the changes that have taken place in education, many leaders and teachers can find themselves disconnected with their original reasons for coming into education.   I often think of us climbing an education mountain where we are snowed under with never ending amounts of paperwork, ambushed by parents leaping out of prickly bushes when we least expect them and  vulnerable children who sometimes need more...
What Every Headteacher should be told before they’re appointed!

What Every Headteacher 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...
This is what teachers need: Smiles and Love

This is what teachers need: Smiles and Love

This blog comes from Headteacher of Parklands Primary School and Passionate School Well-being advocate, Chris Dyson (@ChrisDysonHT)   The biggest resource and the biggest impact on success in any school is the teachers and the TA’s. So wellbeing of this vital resource is paramount to a schools success. True you can be a totalitarian dictator and get performance through criticism, capability, pressure and shouting … but this has the effect of an increase of ‘stress’ on the teacher.   Stress = worry. Worry = anxiety. Anxiety = no risks. No risks = boring lessons. Boring lessons = lack of inspiration. Lack of inspiration = a negative experience for the students.. and a long, long, long year ahead.   At my school we pride ourselves in putting the children first. To do this, the most important resource to their potential being met is the teachers. A happy teacher is free to risk take; free to innovate without the need to be drown in paper…. or to be told by the SLT… “we don’t do it like that..” True some non-negotiables have to be agreed but (for example)  planning being handed in the previous Friday? No! The best planning is completed after the previous lesson… that’s how things change for the better over 10 years.   A happy teacher is a teacher who can love their school and love their home life. So to promote wellbeing at my school, ALL staff who have an opportunity to attend Sports Day or the Xmas Concert or the celebration Star of the Week with their own children, they are allowed to do so WITH pay. It is little...
How Headteachers can develop their Emotional Resilience

How Headteachers can develop their Emotional Resilience

  With the increasing pace of change in our schools and heightened levels of public scrutiny and accountability, it takes a great deal of courage and bravery to be a school leader today.   There are many joys involved in the role, but equally as many challenges. It is not until many school leaders reach headship, that they realise that the stresses of the job are such that they need to strengthen their emotional resilience in order to both thrive and survive.   One of the reasons is, the rules of the game keep changing.  As a result, school leaders become unsure of which rules to play by.   Imagine saying to a child, “Today I am going to teach you how to play tennis” and every time they thought they had mastered how to serve and felt confident in their own abilities [ based upon what you had told them] you then said to them “No, you’ve got it wrong. You now have to do it this way.”   Not only would they soon learn not to trust you, but also, they would never develop the depth of experience, knowledge and insight needed for them to become expert in the game. This is exactly what life is like for many school leaders today.   When we are unsure, we feel insecure. We don’t feel safe. Feelings of confidence, value and self-worth are replaced with feelings of fear, vulnerability and self- doubt. We begin to question our every thought, our every action, because we are never given enough time to ascertain whether they fit with the rules of engagement....
Redefining Leadership: The Death of the “Hero-Head”

Redefining Leadership: The Death of the “Hero-Head”

This blog comes from Headteacher of Brundall Primary School, Rick Stuart-Sheppard.   What is being a leader?  What does leadership actually entail? How much does our perception of what a leader looks like simply depend on our age, generation and unquestioned stereotypes?   I’ve been pondering this because I’ve never felt comfortable hanging my suit on the hanger of Headteacher as Hero-leader or “SuperHead”. This is not because I haven’t known some heroic heads doing wonderful things in challenging situations. But rather because there’s always more to them and what they were doing than being a Sheriff walking into town, brandishing a six-shooter and announcing ‘this is how it’s going to be in my town from here on.’ *Pause for blowing the smoke away from the barrels.*   This conception of the Head as Hero has been on the rise for many years now, intensified by the drive towards academisation. Indeed, Mr Gove is alleged to have remarked he would have liked to clone a particular favourite Head of his 20 000 times and this would be progress towards solving educational problems in the UK.  He also picked another ‘hero’ Head to lead Ofsted, with painful results.   A different view of leadership has further deterred for me this idea of a Hero-Head and crystalized my thoughts.  Back in October, I encountered Geoff Mead (author of ‘Storytelling: The Heart and Soul of Leadership’) at the “Education for the Soul” Conference run by Integrity Coaching.  In reading Geoff’s book after the event, I was struck by a definition of leadership that he put forward, namely that leadership involves ‘making meaning...