Coaching & Leadership Development
The 3 Key Lessons of “Education for the Soul” 2017

The 3 Key Lessons of “Education for the Soul” 2017

    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.   Could a ‘conference’ setting replicate a place of safety for the deep work of school leadership and soul to come together and be seen? One rogue ego and my hopes for the conference would have failed.   One misplaced word or comment, then people would have retreated into themselves, and found no solace, comfort or acceptance in the presence of others.   But I needn’t have feared. Everyone present had bought into the message. Everyone present was prepared to take a risk.   Individuals let go of their leadership masks and allowed true humanity, companionship and hope to come together; in service of one another and in service of shared hopes, dreams and ambitions for our children and our schools.   Personally, it was a deeply humbling experience. To be in the presence of so many wonderful individuals who were prepared to:   – Take a risk – Ask of themselves challenging questions – Think about school leadership differently – Go on a deeper learning journey with themselves and others   And perhaps, most importantly, I witnessed  individuals who were prepared to let go of the belief that ‘self-care is a...
My Guardian Article – Tips for Headteachers to help prevent Burnout

My Guardian Article – Tips for Headteachers to help prevent Burnout

I was recently asked to write an article for the Guardian to offer my advice to School Leaders about what can be done to tackle the causes of burn-out and reduce some of the stress of the role. Below are the tips that I shared with them… If you would like to comment or read my original article on the Guardian website, please click here.   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?   1. Don’t ignore stress and anxiety In his book Leading from the Edge, ex primary head James Hilton recounts how he fooled himself into believing that all was well, even though his body was showing signs of stress through increasingly frequent back pains and migraines.   It’s easy to normalise symptoms of stress, which can also include problems sleeping, loss of appetite and mood swings. You tell yourself it’s part of the job. This is what I did when I was headteacher and I see many others doing the same thing. But these kinds of problems can be a physiological response to stress and anxiety, and should be taken seriously.   2. Build a support system   Leading organisational psychologists Arnold Bakker and Patrícia Costa argue in their research paper on chronic burnout for tailored...
Why Education Needs Values & Integrity

Why Education Needs Values & Integrity

This blog comes from Founder of Values-Based Education and keynote speaker of “Education for the Soul” Conference 2017, 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.   I notice that the level of unrest is increasing, as people feel that they do not have a voice that can be heard. Whether it is a presidential election or a referendum people of all persuasions seem discontent and have a tendency to vote from that basis.   My observation is that when individuals feel a sustained awareness of peacelessness, then this is translated into their behaviour, leading to the polarisation of political, religious, cultural and social identity.   The media is now often consumed with life-limiting messages, which encourage fear and distrust. Humanity is calling out for positive, altruistic leadership. However, where can this be found?   Although the problems seem intractable, I believe there is hope.  Many people seem to be waking up and saying, ‘enough is enough’.   To tackle this, we need schools that seek to enable children to have a moral compass based on positive human values that can form the foundations for transformational change.  We need to encourage adults and children alike to have a meaning...
My Appearance on Sky News – “Headteachers are Suffering”

My Appearance on Sky News – “Headteachers are Suffering”

Note: The Link for the Video can be found at the Bottom of the Page.   Back in 2017, I was fortunate enough to be asked to appear on Sky News to share my thoughts on the Head Teacher recruitment and retention crisis.  A topic which I believe to be of fundamental importance to our education system.   In my short stint on “The Point”, I discussed  that according to three Educational Leadership organisations, English Schools may face a shortage of up to 19,000 Heads by 2022, findings which were also substantiated in a recent article in the Times.   The report and the Times article, once again, underlined how schools are struggling to retain great School Leaders, with many leaving due to a lack of nurture and support from within the profession.   Things must change!   Reading these reports affirmed my belief that so much more must be done to make the role of School Leadership sustainable.   The pace and volume of change over the past decade has led to increased ambiguity, inconsistency, insecurity and staggeringly high levels of public scrutiny and personal accountability.   The system continues to perpetuate the myth of the Teflon coated Super-Head; The leader who can turn around a school at lightning speed, and sustain their performance and motivation, amidst criticism, job insecurity and the continual sacrificing of their own needs for the sake of their school.   There must come a point where all in education recognise that Head teachers are mothers, fathers, partners. They feel hurt and pain. They experience self-doubt and worry. The Super-Head does not exist.  What...