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Showing posts from December, 2013

Some Tips for School Leaders

The following are lessons I have learned about key issues for headteachers and school leaders after over 15 years in leadership and Headteacher positions. I share them is the spirit of co-operation and collaboration that I think is crucial for all working in schools. They are definitely things for aspiring leaders to think about, and perhaps for experienced leaders to remind themselves of if they have been distracted by everything else they have to deal with. I don't think the following issues are exhaustive but they are common to most schools and in most situations.


You really do need to understand learning and teaching, and have to see the development of this as your core businessHave a clear understanding of your values, principles,  and aims and vision, as an individual and for your schoolUnderstand, and take time to develop, the crucial relationships that make the school real, and allow it to function at its bestRemember you are a leader and leadership involves getting your he…

Relationships Are Key

"The secret of my success is a two word answer: Know people!" Harry S Firestone

"Our staff is our most important resource." How often have you heard this trotted out by senior managers at meetings, in newsletters, in briefings and in policies? I believe it to be true, but too many people who say this are then betrayed by their actions, not their words. Talking the talk, but failing to walk the walk.

Schools, and their workings, are complex because they are centred on people. In case you hadn't noticed, people are complex and complicated. Schools succeed or fail according to the strengths and capabilities of the individuals within them and, more importantly, the success and strength of their collaborations and relationships.

Deep and successful learning is a social and collaborative activity. Yes, there are times when we need to learn and think alone, but we deepen that learning and understanding through collaboration and exploration with others. This way we can…

This Heidie's Not For Turning!

I see Michael Gove is minded to approve applications for new Grammar Schools in England, as he seeks to turn the educational clock back to the 'glory' days of the 1950s. My heart sinks at the thought  of another generation of children suffering from all the inequalities and segregation of such a system.

I went through a segregated education system in the mid to late sixties in England. This was very much a time of fixed mindsets, where intelligence was seen as a gift of genetics, you either had it or you didn't. There wasn't anything you could do about it. Very early in a child's time at school, decisions were quickly made about who the bright ones were, and who weren't. These decisions were often based on who could keep up with the teacher at the front of the classroom and their explanation of new learning and knowledge they deemed you should have. It also helped if your parents were seen to be upper working class or middle class Just to confirm the judgements…

My Values Help Me Sleep

"When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier." Roy E Disney

I have long thought and argued that, as a school leader, your values and principles are what are made real by your actions. If you are really clear about your own values and principles, these should be reflected in your actions, and interactions, as a leader. I agree with Disney also, in that when such values are clear and understood, they make making decisions easier. They help you establish the 'lines in the sand' that you wish to establish personally professionally and within the organisation you lead.

A good self evaluation question to ask is, 'do your actions reflect and give life to your values?' Leaders who struggle with credibility are those who display a mismatch between what they say and what they do. It really is destructive to talk one talk, but walk another walk. People really do judge you by your actions, not your words. Yes they will listen to your words, to star…

Just How Important Are Headteachers To Schools?

The range of responses to the question posed in the title of this post will range from 'very' to 'not at all.' But where does the real truth lie?

There is one school of thought that suggests the Headteacher as the most important member of the staffing compliment of any school. This argument hinges on the hierarchical structure that pertain in many schools. In such structures, the Headteacher is at the pinnacle of the hierarchical pyramid. They believe that the Headteacher is most important as they are the ones who will drive forward improvements, set the agenda for the school, set and raise standards, deploy resources and deal with underperformance. The quality of the school is a reflection of the quality of the Headteacher. Their sheer force of will, personality and charisma will be reflected throughout the school and in all areas.

Others argue that the Headteacher is not so important or crucial. This argument  supports the view that it is really teachers who deliver …

Accentuate The Positive

I had a couple of experiences with colleagues today that again reminded me how we in education find it so easy to focus on the negatives, even when surrounded by overwhelming positives! We have been using questionnaires to gather parent and pupil views on our schools. This is not something we do too often, every three years or so, but is a key component of our self-evaluation processes and engagement with parents. The parental surveys had started to arrive back in school and teacher angst had begun!

The first teacher I spoke to had received most of her parent responses after only two days. She was upset because two, out of twenty five, were not overwhelmingly positive! She was taking this very personally, even though most of her children, and their parents, had many years of engagement with our school and only one term with her. She showed me the two responses and I discovered that out of twenty questions they had two or three each which the response was not as positive as she, and I,…