Coaching & Leadership Development
Becoming an Anti-Racist School – A Governor’s Story

Becoming an Anti-Racist School – A Governor’s Story

This story comes from Chair of Governors of Ursuline High School, Claire Thorogood   Like many people, I felt a mix of horror and outrage at the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. But this time, it didn’t feel enough.   It really brought home to me and to many, that racism isn’t just an issue in the States, systemic racism is alive and well and thriving in the UK. I think previously the UK has always let itself off the hook by being like, “well, we’re not as racist as America, we’re a multicultural society” but the events of last year showed that racism is part and parcel of the lived experience of people of colour here.   Particularly, as I’m also a chair of governors of a large girls’ comprehensive school with large number of students of colour, the personal impact, and the extra weight of responsibility I felt was striking. It made me realise that if this has impacted so much on me as a white person, then what are the students of colour in our school feeling? If I feel that horror and outrage, what must they be feeling?’   As a school, it made us realise that we could no longer pretend that racism happens out there, but not within our school gates.   Taking a Stand   So, like other schools across the country, we decided to undertake wholesale work to try and address these issues on racial justice in our own context. As part of this, there was a review of the curriculum, uniforms, staff training and policies amongst other things....
“It Starts with You” – How to Tackle Racism in Schools

“It Starts with You” – How to Tackle Racism in Schools

  This Headteacher story comes from Headteacher of Frensham Heights School, Rick Clarke   Like most schools and organisations across the UK and beyond, myself and our school community were very much affected George Floyd’s death in 2020, the resulting Black Lives Matter movement and the whole worldwide condemnation of the events that took place.   Like many schools, the events led us to re-examine what was happening in society, what we were doing, and how we were relating to each other.   As a school, we’d always said that we absolutely don’t tolerate racism and I’d like to think that openness and transparency and generosity, are in many ways some of the defining features of our school. Yet demographically, as a school, we are overwhelmingly white, we only have a handful of students of colour and just one staff member who’s mixed race.   Looking back now, I would say we probably also hadn’t always approached race, in the most honest way, despite of our culture of openness.   But after George Floyd’s death, when the discussion about how organisations should respond become more pronounced that changed. We almost immediately started having a lot of conversations, engaging with our students and with our parents about these issues, who asked us a number of questions such as:   How’s the school going to respond? What are you going to do about this? What’s your position on race? How we began to chart a way forward   There were some calls for us to examine what we teach and why. In particular, there was a very conflicted debate around some...
10 Qualities of Successful School Leaders

10 Qualities of Successful School Leaders

    This blog comes from Academic Director at the University of San Diego, Joseph Lathan, PHD.   Educational leaders play a pivotal role in affecting the climate, attitude and reputation of their schools. They are the cornerstone on which learning communities function and grow. With successful school leadership, schools become effective incubators of learning, places where students are not only educated but challenged, nurtured and encouraged.   On the other hand, poor or absent school leadership can undermine the goals of an educational system. When schools lack a strong foundation and direction, learning is compromised, and students suffer. According to a Wallace Foundation study, “Leadership is second only to classroom instruction as an influence on student learning.”   But what makes a successful school leader? How do you become truly effective as a Headteacher or in a leadership position? While there is no one solution to successful school leadership, there are certain strategies, skills, traits and beliefs that many of the most effective school leaders share.   I believe the following traits are common among the most successful school leaders…   1. They Understand the Importance of Building Community   Effective school leaders build and sustain reciprocal family and community partnerships and leverage those partnerships to cultivate inclusive, caring and culturally responsive school communities. To build these community networks it is essential that school leaders are visible in their schools and community, develop trust and create a sense of transparency and shared purpose with parents, staff, community members and students.   Megan Tschannen-Moran, author and professor of educational leadership at the College of William and Mary, discusses the importance that trust plays...
Why Reflective Spaces are Key to Growth

Why Reflective Spaces are Key to Growth

This expert thinkpiece comes from facilitator, mediator and Integrity Coaching Associate, Joshua Okunlola. Historically, the western view of development has been very linear. We are born, we go to school, we become adults, other things happen, and we eventually die.   As a result, adults are individuals who have everything they need to be successful and take their place fully in society. As for the unlikely few who are not like this, there isn’t much that they can do.   However, I believe development is not linear, nor is it as ordered and determinist as we in western society see it. Instead, we develop in cycles. With each Cycle, there are continuing opportunities to develop and get the developmental messages that we need to grow and take our place in the world.   Growth isn’t a one-time event, where we can say ‘yep, I am fully grown’. Instead, growth is observed in stages and triggered by the different seasons we find ourselves in life, e.g., a new job, first day at school etc.   Each season is pregnant with possibility, and the use of affirmations within each season are ways we can “give permission and support our natural developmental process.” (Pam Levin)   The cycle of development is a neat framework for understanding the seasonal developmental needs individuals experience at different stages throughout their lives.   The Cycle of Development   The Cycle of development has six stages: Being, Doing, Thinking, Identity, Skills and Structure and Integration.   Each stage has varied development tasks, which give voice to what we are being invited into. Firstly, to take our place more fully in the present...
What is Values-Based Leadership – Expert Interview

What is Values-Based Leadership – Expert Interview

This expert interview comes from Executive Coach and Integrity Coaching Associate, Pat Joseph.   What is Values-Based Leadership?   Values based leadership is when leaders draw on both their own core values and the negotiated and defined values of the work organisation for guidance and motivation.   Values-based school leaders are transparent about sharing and communicating their values and in helping their staff and pupils to connect to their own core values and those of the community they serve and learn within.   Values-based leadership is described by Richard Barrett, author of Building a Values-Driven Organisation, as “…a way of making authentic decisions that builds trust and commitment.”   Research tells us that values-based leadership is most effective when these values are ‘truly lived’ by the leadership team who model these values in their everyday attitude, approach, behaviours and decision-making.   This demonstrates their inherent commitment to their values in a real and observable way and encourages the whole of the organisation to make choices to internalise and act out of these values. As a consequence, these values become the “moral compass “that puts people before processes; helps our problem solving and guides our decision making about what is the right thing to do even when it might not be the easiest thing to do.   What role has values-based leadership played in your career?   Values are at the heart of our identity – they guide and enable us to show up as our best selves and they help us to know when things are not in alignment with our own integrity.   As a black woman, who started her career...
Knowing Oneself – 3 Tips to Effective Self-Reflection

Knowing Oneself – 3 Tips to Effective Self-Reflection

  This expert thinkpiece comes from Executive Coach and Integrity Coaching Associate, Mark Bisson.   It is part of the human condition to be introspective and to have a desire to gain a better understanding of ourselves.   Indeed, as many great thinkers throughout history have noted, it is precisely our self-consciousness and our ability to know ourselves, that sets us apart from other species on the planet.   As a professional coach, I have seen how it can be one of the most powerful tools for personal development for my clients.   As British psychotherapist Alison Rickard puts it, our reflective thinking can be “the combined voice of the best teacher and supervisor we ever had”.   On a personal level, it has been an essential component of my continuous learning journey. It has provided me with some valuable insights about myself and has enhanced my understanding of others both in my professional life and in my personal relationships.   As I have developed my reflective practice throughout the last few decades, I have learnt three key secrets to effective self-reflection…   1) Open up and be willing to take action   Effective self-reflection has at its core a willingness to be open with oneself; to allow oneself to dig deep and critically consider the inner workings of one’s minds, habits and behaviours.   This openness creates a space for messages to come forward, whether these are words, images, colours or emotions, and can allow you to build a deeper understanding of yourself and your unconscious mind.   However, as Twentieth century Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire says, that “reflection...