Coaching & Leadership Development
Our School Leaders Need Your Support!

Our School Leaders Need Your Support!

“Loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is intact” Martha Beck   Like all top leadership positions, school leadership and headship in particular brings with it the type of power that isolates: positional power. The higher up you are in an organisation, the more your positional power means that you not only have increased pressures and responsibilities, it also means an increased distancing in relationships.   Learning how to balance the need for human connection, with the need to maintain the integrity of the leadership role, is a challenge many school leaders face. Individuals have to decide where their personal and professional boundaries lie and the degree to which they will give of themselves.   When you are ‘lower down’ the school hierarchy it is much easier to build relationships with those who are like you and to share problems with those who will have had similar experiences.   To begin with there are more of you. If, for example, you are a class teacher in a primary school or a head of house in a secondary school, there will be others that hold the same position who you can turn to for support. However, as you climb, the number of individuals that hold the same or similar post diminishes until, finally, you reach the top – head teacher – and look around to find that there is no one in your setting who holds the same position as you.   In learning to cope with the isolation brought about by positional power, leaders have to learn how to develop new relationships with themselves. Once the boundaries...
How to Survive as the Head of a Multi-Academy Trust

How to Survive as the Head of a Multi-Academy Trust

  Being the Head of a Mutli-Academy Trust (MAT) is a role that still feels new to many and as a result many Exec Heads and CEO’s are still struggling to understand what the role is really asking of them. However, we do know a few things for sure. We know that increasingly, in these roles leaders are having to find ways to:   – Cope with increased levels of ambiguity and organisational uncertainty as they steer individuals, teams and schools towards a shared vision – Broaden their networks within and outside of traditional educational circles – Stay abreast of organisational system change and dynamics and their impact (for better or worse) on both staff and pupil outcomes   For many, this has meant working at the very edge of their comfort zone. It is a ‘brave, new world’ which they are now in and for which new navigational tools are needed if they are to survive.   Developing new navigational tools for surviving leadership of a MAT   If you are an Exec Head or the CEO of a MAT, you will have experienced the emotional and psychological intensity that occurs when seeking to bring about change across organisations and through different layers of personnel.   Therefore it hopefully won’t come as a surprise to you, when I say that the new navigational tools that you require to survive as the leader of a MAT, are slightly different from traditional organisational leadership and management tools.   No doubt, you will have already have been on courses that have provided you with information on how to manage the new...
How OFSTED harms the Emotional Health of our Schools

How OFSTED harms the Emotional Health of our Schools

    How many schools do you know that following an OFSTED visit, their staff have felt an upsurge in energy and have been inspired and motivated to carry out their roles with increased levels of passion and commitment?   If you know of any, I’d like to be introduced to them and to be told of their secret formula for overcoming the huge amounts of stress that OFSTED inspections induce.   Head of OFSTED, Amanda Spielman recently said that,   “There are quite a few heads in the system who write blogs that spin up levels of anxiety. It’s not just the various parts of government… there’s also a responsibility in the whole education system not to manufacture tension which shouldn’t be there”   In my opinion, these Heads that she refers to are not writing blogs to ‘spin up levels of anxiety or to ‘manufacture tension which shouldn’t be there’ they are simply writing to tell it how it is.   They are simply saying “We are human beings operating in a system that has yet to take full account of and understand the emotional impact that OSTED has upon us and our schools.   They are saying, “We need a relational model of school leadership/accountability that builds trusts and allows us to be autonomous in our decisions as school leaders.”   It’s a hard message for OFSTED to hear, but ask any Head and they will tell you that a culture of fear does exist and it not based on hearsay or myth. It is based upon their own experiences and that of many of their colleagues....
The 5 Key Responsibilities of Every School Governor

The 5 Key Responsibilities of Every School Governor

This blog comes from ex-Secondary Headteacher, former Governor and Integrity Coaching associate, Tim Small.   As volunteers, usually with busy professional and personal lives of their own, governors are asked to carry a heavy responsibility.  How can they sort out the vital from the not-so-vital and focus on what matters most?  At the heart of that question lies the relationship between governance and leadership.   In three different roles, I’ve witnessed this relationship close to: as a Head, as a Governor myself and as an External Adviser for Heads’ Performance Management.  From all three perspectives, the relationship was ‘make-or-break’; it had the power either to drive or destroy momentum for improvement.   I believe it all depends how Governors understand and apply themselves to these five key responsibilities…   1) Setting ethos and values 2) Holding leadership to account 3) Balancing support and challenge 4) Distinguishing between help and interference 5) Taking responsibility for the Head’s wellbeing.   1) The school’s ethos and values are the governors’ responsibility, but how they’re arrived at will decide both their credibility and their impact.  When the process is genuinely inclusive, it harnesses all the energy of the community to a common sense of purpose.   In the Governor team that I belonged to, we initiated a simple but thorough consultation of every stakeholder group: pupils, staff, governors, parents and families and the local community, asking them (i) what they liked (about school), (ii) what mattered most to them and (iii) what they would change if they could, we gathered rich feedback for sifting, discussing and distilling on a training day.   The values statement...
Why Headteachers need Nurturing Relationships

Why Headteachers need Nurturing Relationships

This blog comes from Integrity Coaching Associate, transactional analysis expert and Headteacher Nurture Meal facilitator, Giles Barrow.   About five years ago I became acutely aware of the troubles presented by the head teachers I worked with. It was an especially bad time in terms of education policy. The Con-Dem coalition was in power and Micheal Gove was in his ascendancy at the DfE. The shift in policy reflected a fundamental move toward a very different understanding of not just what schools should be doing, but also radically changing how they should go about their work.   This was the time of mass academisation, free-school proliferation and the withdrawal of initiatives such as Every Child Matters and the national strategies. There was also a move in Ofsted to a much more data-reliant approach in determining judgements and head teachers across the country dreaded the wait until Wednesday lunchtime at which point the inspectors would have notified them of an intention to visit that week.   I have been working with Headteachers for over twenty years now. I am familiar with the term-by-term cycles of school life and the stresses and strains that invariably ebb and flow from year-to-year. But during this recent past, I was not only aware of a dramatic shift in stress amongst school leaders, but I was also feeling close to being overwhelmed myself in the face of such anxiety across the dozen or so schools that I was working with.   I began to notice a sense of impotence – not knowing quite what to do, or how to help these colleagues. I became increasingly aware that I was...
The Greatest Challenge of Starting a New Role

The Greatest Challenge of Starting a New Role

  It has been well documented that when school leaders change roles and have to step out of their comfort zones, it can take a while for them to find their feet and to regain their equilibrium.  For any new school leader or an experienced school leader in a new role the experience is much the same.   New school environments to get used to, new relationships to build, new structures and systems to develop, all needing enormous investments of time and energy.   I know that it certainly took me some time to really feel that the role of Head Teacher really belonged to me and I that I could take it, shape it and make it my own.   I was excited and full of hope about the plans I had for the children in my school and what could be done to take the school out of special measures. But equally I was fearful too. I was one of the youngest members of staff, how would the other members of staff respond to me? As much as I knew that one of the reasons that I had been appointed was because of my people skills. I also knew that as much as I got on well with people, I hated conflict.   I was great at handling conflict and breaking up fights and disagreements with children, but with adults, that was another matter! Stepping into the role of Head Teacher meant that for the duration of time that it would take me to learn new skills [and in particular the skill of conflict management] I would...