Learn how Governors can effectively support their School Leaders to excel and achieve the best outcomes for their schools.
At Integrity Coaching, we believe that School Governing Bodies have an important duty of care to their School Leaders to ensure that those who run our schools are properly supported to remain at ‘the top of their game’.
There are now growing numbers of Heads leaving the profession, fewer applicants for Headteacher roles and a significant proportion of headship vacancies are having to be advertised more than once.
Given the extensive costs involved in Headteacher recruitment, it makes sense for Governing Bodies to ensure they are taking active steps to retain their Heads.
To do this, Governors must ensure they provide proper support to their School Leaders.
In order to do this effectively, we believe school Governing Bodies must understand 5 key things about supporting the needs of Headteachers.
5 Key Areas to Understand in Supporting Headteachers
- All Headteachers, regardless of their career stage, need support.
- Headteachers require different kinds of support. They need support to overcome emotional and psychological demands of the role. Additionally, they need support to meet the strategic and operational demands of the role.
- Headteachers perform at their best when given personalised support to reflect on their leadership practice, explore the challenges they’re facing and find solutions. This also enables them to align their leadership actions to the meeting of their personal leadership vision and school vision.
- Coaching helps Heads to increase their effectiveness and confidence. It enables longer serving Heads to sustain their commitment, renew their vigour and maintain their impact on their schools.
- In challenging and complex situations, Headteachers need personalised approaches to their CPD if they are to both survive and thrive in their roles.
How Does Coaching Support School Leader Teams?
A major challenge for school Governing Bodies is to understand how to be a ‘critical friend’ and provide robust accounting and support systems that will ensure that Headteachers are able to remain at ‘the top of their game’ without sacrificing their own health and well-being.
What are the benefits of Coaching?
NFER: Mentoring and Coaching for Professionals: A study of research evidence – 2009
Research from this study found that when offered as a support mechanism for School Leaders the following benefits were found to be in evidence.
Support the Well-Being of School Leaders
Coaching supports the psychological well-being and confidence of School Leaders. Headship can be professionally isolating and so School Leaders need opportunities where they can explore the challenges of the role, be listened to and identify solutions that can best support them in their role. Above all, a happy and healthy School Leader leads to a happy and healthy school.
Enhances Leadership Skills
Coaching deepens leadership knowledge, skills and practice and develops leaders’ problem solving and creativity. As a result, time is used more productively for overcoming complex challenges and school improvement initiatives are able to make greater impact.
Increased Emotional Resilience
Coaching helps to build the emotional resilience of School Leaders by enabling leaders to reflect on challenges they are facing and how to overcome them. Coaching provides a space where Heads can identify new tools and ways of thinking and being, that will better equip them for facing and dealing with crises and struggles when they arise.
Develops Self-Awareness and Self-Management
Coaching enhances leaders’ reflection and thinking skills and allows Heads to become more self-aware and better at self-management. This results in leaders who know how to build on their strengths and address areas for development in themselves. Leaders are then able to transfer this learning to deal more successfully with others.
Improves Communication and Relationship ManagementCoaching has been shown to help build Heads’ communication and relationship management skills. After coaching, Heads feel more able to handle difficult conversations which helps to reduce conflict and promotes greater harmony across all relationships.
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Find out how to best support your School Leaders
We believe that just as our School Leaders have a duty of care to their pupils, and their staff; Governing Bodies have a duty of care to our Headteachers and School Leaders.
They have an important responsibility to act as a “critical friend”, providing both challenge and support to those that lead our schools.
The Realities of Headship
Director of Integrity Coaching, Viv Grant herself experienced the difficult reality of Headship and the often deep, hidden, inner struggles which can come with School Leadership. Her story and the personal cost in becoming one of the youngest Headteachers in the country to turn around a failing primary school was featured in the Guardian.
“I had to fight my Governing Body for Support” – Anonymous Headteacher
One Headteacher shares her experience of trying to get the support she needed in her role, the challenge of reaching out for help and her struggles getting her governors on board.
“I just wish other Governors could see the power of coaching (like fortunately mine now have) – as I feel that everybody should have an offer of coaching from their schools.
No Head should be in the position that I was at the start of my headship, where they have to plead for the support they so badly need!”