Dear Boris Johnson,
I am writing to you with a plea at a time when your mind may well be on other matters but my plea is quite simple; please begin to listen to those in education who are on the front line.
Our head teachers and school leaders who every day give their all as they seek to create better futures for our children.
I write this letter to you as a former head teacher, who has been in the profession for over twenty five years. Although I left headship over thirteen years ago, I am now in schools nearly every day, providing coaching support for passionate school leaders. When I am with my school leaders I hear the truth about what it takes to be a successful school leader.
To be a successful school leader today takes:
Within the current increasingly competitive and antagonistic narrative surrounding school improvement, school leaders are finding that these qualities are becoming harder to develop. As a key by product of your predecessors’ reforms have been heightened feelings of professional and emotional isolation. In such an environment school leaders struggle to form trusting relationships and feelings of connectedness and shared self worth diminish.
Yet the concerns of many hardworking Headteachers and the need for greater support for Heads appears to continue to fall on deaf ears and with this has come heightened feelings of professional and emotional isolation.
I ask you to listen to head teachers and school leaders, because if you did you would truly understand what it takes for our school leaders to ‘dare greatly’.
You would understand that they do not want to ‘go to war’ but they want to find peaceful and humane ways to give our children the best possible start in life. If you truly listened, you would understand that in order for them to achieve that goal, they need support that empowers and uplifts them, so that they in turn can do the same for our children.
The National Standards of Headteachers back in 2015 outlined that “Self Development is the key to the development of a headteacher” yet very little more was explained and certainly very little appears to have been done to meet that goal. Leaders need more than just to reflect on what they have or haven’t done and more than feedback from colleagues and governors.
The type of self development that headteachers need if they are to truly excel in their roles, is the type that allows them to grow as human beings, so that they are fully supported to achieve their own potential.
Please understand that without the full complement of support necessary to meet the demands of school leadership, many headteachers will fall short of fulfilling their own potential, and hence sadly, that of their schools. Not because they were weak or not up to the job, but simply because they were human and the system failed to meet their needs as human beings.
So please, if you truly want to all of our children to excel and our schools to be world class, recognise that school improvement is a humanitarian pursuit.
It is a pursuit where a passion for excellence, rigour and high standards for all should sit equally alongside compassion, humanity and hope.
Director of Integrity Coaching
Bringing the Humanity back into School Leadership
Our School Leaders play a key role in society. They are the guardians of our children’s futures. To succeed in their roles, it is imperative that they are given the emotional and mental support that they need thrive. When schools are led by grounded, confident, emotionally healthy individuals, they create the environments in which there is a joy and love of learning and children thrive too. For those involved in supporting School Leaders, this should be our ultimate goal.
Yet heartbreakingly, school leaders remain endemically under-supported and, as a result, many leaders are left without anyone to turn to when they are in need of support, clarity, guidance or even just some simple encouragement to keep going.
This isn’t how things should be. That’s why I offer free School Leader support calls to all those who may benefit from a confidential space where they can…
– Talk through the challenges they’re facing
– Get support in locating next steps and finding solutions
– Reflect on recent events and the impact that these have had on them as a leader and as a person
– Gain clarity around their thoughts
If you feel like you’d benefit from a call like this or perhaps know someone who would, please follow the link above!