Coaching & Leadership Development
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...
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...
5 Most Popular School Leadership Blogs of 2018

5 Most Popular School Leadership Blogs of 2018

The end of the calendar year is always a great opportunity to reflect and be thankful for those who support and inspire you over the 12 months. This year, in particular, we’ve been very grateful and fortunate to have a number of fantastic bloggers and leaders within education sharing their brilliant insights with us around leadership, well-being and school performance in our weekly blogs. So with not long left in 2018, we thought this would be a great opportunity to look back to some of our most widely read blogs of the year… 1) “How 12 Years of Headship Changed Me” – Geraldine Foley     In this touching story, Cardiff Headteacher, Geraldine Foley shared openly and honestly the struggles she experienced in her role several years ago. In the blog, Geraldine poignantly recounts how by giving so much of herself into the role on a daily basis and putting her well-being last, she began to lose touch with her friends and even herself. “That’s what twelve years of headship had done to me. I became the shadow of the person I used to be. I tried to hide it from everybody, from my family to the people at school. I managed to keep a lid on it, but then it started to unravel…” She describes how ending up in hospital with black-outs made her realise things had to change, seek out coaching and make real changes to her life – and the transformational impact that these had on herself and in her school.   Read more 2. “Returning from Maternity Leave was my Hardest Challenge – Secret Headteacher     This secret Headteacher blog came from...
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...