Coaching & Leadership Development
What MAT CEOs need – The 5 Levels of Relationships

What MAT CEOs need – The 5 Levels of Relationships

This blog comes from the Chief Executive Officer of Folio Education Trust, Jonathan Wilden   From my early memory of working in a school I was told that the most important person in the building was the person with the biggest bunch of keys.   For years, this person also proved to be my unofficial marriage counsellor as without them kicking me out of my classroom and locking the door behind me I wouldn’t have saved my marriage through those essential years; a period when building a family and a support network is often so essential for modern day professionals.   I needed that balance between the world of work which I loved and the world of those individuals away from my desk at home.   With regards the role I play today, I have come to realise that there are a range of relationship levels that a MAT CEO needs to establish to be successful…   Relationship Level 1 – Who do I look forward to?   That person with the big bunch of keys could only achieve so much with regards to marriage guidance and so sadly in the process of being promoted and taking on more and more I lost my marriage. But in the years following this regrettable event, I made sure that I did not lose sight of my children; their development and the importance they have in my life. While I don’t necessarily wake up every morning in the same house as them now, they continue to give me personal significance at the start of every day. When I leave my house  and...
The 3 Steps to Surviving a School Crisis

The 3 Steps to Surviving a School Crisis

This Blog comes from an ex-secondary Headteacher, trainee therapist and Integrity Coaching Associate, Tim Small.    Many things can cause a crisis in a School, more often than not – they result from a set of circumstances which are often caused by things entirely out of one’s control as a school leader.  For example, I remember once suffering from a combination of a flu’ epidemic, a shortage of supply teachers and three long-term sickness cases on my staff all happening in the space of a week and it can catch you completely off-guard.   When this pressure is combined with a shift in your personal circumstances, a bereavement, a family sickness, even something as ordinary as a home maintenance crisis can cause serious psychological upheaval, if you allow it do so.   But how can you avoid this happening and what should you do if you find yourself in a situation threatened by a crisis that feels out of control?   Well I believe there’s three three things every School Leader should do if they want to survive a crisis like this unscathed….    1. Remember Your Oxygen Mask   Firstly, I have learned that how you feel is more to do with your inner state than what’s going on out there.  When I’ve slept well and feel physically and mentally OK, I somehow feel ‘bigger’ and problems seem ‘smaller’.  They even seem to matter less, although I am still driven to solve them as best I can.  The difference is that I have some energy to do so.  Fatigue, on the other hand, makes us turn in on ourselves and it becomes...
The Importance of Authentic Leadership

The Importance of Authentic Leadership

This blog comes from the author of A Manifesto for Excellence in Schools and CEO of Inspire Partnership, Rob Carpenter (@carpenter_rob) The most common frustration vexed by schools I hear is “…if only we could…” Faced with increased pressure to demonstrate progress through pupil outcomes, primary schools have developed learned behaviours, sometimes losing sight of our need to do right by students and communities. We have retro-fitted school improvement to accountability frameworks; the measurement of learning has become the proxy for success. In blunt terms, we teach pupils to read nonsense phonics words because that is what we test. The impact has normalised the view that school improvement can only be measured through outcomes, rather than interactions. It is a misguided ideal, and as we are slowly learning, it hasn’t worked. An obsession with accountability has created an environment where unethical practice has become accepted—we view students as objects and over emphasise the importance of measurement as our proxy for success, a reverse engineering which retro-fits curriculum to fit an assessment framework. Earlier this year, I was asked by a leading school improvement organisation to deliver a presentation to a group of executive leaders. Having carefully planned a session around learning-focused ethical leadership, which was warmly received by delegates, I was more than surprised to open an email from the event team, questioning the focus of my session, admonishing me for over-emphasising the leadership of teaching and learning. They wanted to know whether future sessions could possibly concentrate on the more technical aspects of school improvement, including delivery of sustainable business strategy, processes and accountability frameworks. My response was unequivocal....
The Evolving Role of an Executive Headteacher

The Evolving Role of an Executive Headteacher

  This article was written by former head of impact at NFER, Karen Wespieser.    What is an executive headteacher? Unlike the term “headteacher”, which is defined under section 35 and 36 of the Education Act 2002, there is currently no legal definition of what an “executive headteacher” (EHT) is or what they should do.   To understand better this emerging role at NFER, we looked at the application packs of leadership jobs advertised in the national press, as well as 12 in-depth case studies. Using this qualitative data we were able to investigate the duties and skills that distinguish the Executive Headteacher.   A Department for Education (DfE) definition considers that the “post of executive headteacher should be used for a headteacher who directly leads two or more schools in a federation or other partnership arrangement” (DfE, 2015). Our research largely supports this though we found that it does not wholly reflect the picture on the ground. In practice, EHTs can:   – Lead formal groups of schools (multi-academy trusts or federations). – Be the substantive leader of one school and have a contractual arrangement with one or more other schools (maybe on an interim basis). – Lead a school with more than one phase or site (that is, not necessarily two separate schools). – Have management responsibilities which go beyond that of a single phase school (such as managing a Teaching School Alliance).   It is therefore helpful to think of an Executive Headteachers as the strategic leader of more than one school or equivalent responsibility. It is a complex role that is deployed in a range of contexts and structures to address...
See the Light! – The Power of Story

See the Light! – The Power of Story

This blog comes from inspirational storyteller and “Education for the Soul” Conference 2019 keynote speaker, Kevin Graal.   Once upon a time the legendary wise fool Nasrudin was resting on a river bank, when somebody shouted to him from the opposite side: “Hey! How do I get across?”   Nasrudin shouted back: “You ARE across!”   Educational theories and statutory frameworks come and go. But one thing doesn’t change: school leaders and teachers are achieving miracles on a daily basis. They know what to do. They understand what needs to be done. They ARE across – despite the obstacles and external pressures put on them.   Once upon a time the nail said to the hammer:“Hey! Don’t hit me so hard.”   The hammer replied: “Hard? If only you knew how hard the carpenter is holding ME!”   Storytelling has an immense value in its own right – not just as a means of developing language skills or improving literacy. If we think of stories as merely a means to an end, we undervalue their true power and significance.   And just because a story isn’t true doesn’t mean it lacks truth. I never ever say, ‘Well it’s JUST a story.’ It’s MORE than a story!   The stories we tell each other have the power to change our lives.   But what about the stories we sometimes tell to ourselves? Like the one about not having this or that skill; about not being up to the task ahead; about being good at this but not at that; about being this or that kind of person – stories that can leave us feeling...
The Inner Work of a School Leader

The Inner Work of a School Leader

This blog comes from International speaker, writer and “Education for the Soul” Conference 2019 keynote speaker, Mac Macartney.   Contained within the wisdom traditions of North America’s First Nation people are many teachings that relate directly to leadership. A central teaching is that of the Twin Trail.   Like so many other threads of wisdom emerging from indigenous peoples, the Twin Trail reflects a deep understanding of our human psychology. The Twin Trail refers to the inner life; that we all must attend to if we are to lead ourselves (and others) with integrity, authenticity and purpose.  It also speaks to our capacity as humans to make moral choices.   In a challenging encounter that I had with my First Nation mentors in 1998, the Twin Trail was described to me in this manner:      “We would not trust any leader who is not committed to the Twin Trail – the inner trail of self-understanding, self-unfolding and deepening; as this is a necessary companion for the outer trail.   The outer trail concerns how we show up as leaders. It is the barometer for the depth of our inner work. The Twin Trail of leadership is built upon the knowledge that very few humans can survive the accumulation of power without becoming corrupted by it.   Hubris is the greatest challenge of all successful leaders and it grows most powerful where there is no valuing of the inner trail. The outer trail, where our behaviours impact on the world is hugely important, but without the on-going wisdom path of the inner trail, both our conscious and unconscious endeavours, may...