We always hear about the squeezed middle in the press. They are hard done by economically. In education, I tend to think the squeezed middle equivalent are the heads of department who often find themselves in the line of fire from all directions but who can be overlooked when it comes to concern and care.

Managing your workload is something that, in my experience, most teachers and school leaders struggle with. There’s certainly no magic bullet. Some would even say that it’s impossible to get the balance between your professional and personal lives right, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying. It may be a journey rather than a destination.

To some, education is a machine. To others, it’s more akin to a biological ecosystem. Here, FE English teacher and MSc supervisor Dr Carol Webb explains how, to her, education is an ever-adapting, wildly varied ecological environment.

Why are frogs so happy? Because they eat what bugs them. Haha. Good one. What bugs you about education? Make a list. Yes, you. Do it, now. Then just eat it. Figuratively speaking. How? By engaging in pond life thinking perhaps, that's how.

Inset days are often criticised, with both teachers and parents finding them an annoyance. Jane Basnett, Downe House’s head of Modern Foreign Languages, tells us why Inset days need to be remoulded into something worthwhile.

September: So, the lovely, long, hot summer is over. Well, maybe not so hot, but lovely and long anyway. You have rested, recuperated and regrouped. You have done lots of reading for pleasure and reading for work and, if you are lucky, the two will have coincided. You have taken down old displays and planned for some exciting, interactive new ones. Your classroom is ready for action. Lessons are planned and you have had time to let the creative juices flow and design some great new resources. You personally are raring to go, as you have managed to get some down time over the holidays. A few weeks cycling through the Loire, or camping somewhere on Britain's beautiful coastline or perhaps a staycation taking in all the sites you never get round to seeing. Yes, you are ready to come back and face the new term. All you have to do now is get through those first days back, including the dreaded Inset.

The internet is awash with steps to success and these cover every field: professional, cultural, social and some I would not dare to mention. Often these generic codes are ideas that we could easily think of ourselves, but as the self-help industry has always been popular, perhaps we don't do this as well as we could.

I wanted to look at one example of self-help thinking, Terry Starbucker's reminders for first time leaders, to explore how they would translate into successful practice for the new teacher, department head, member of SLT (we all lead in our own way, after all). Starbucker describes his appointment as VP of Operations at a cable television channel in America, at the age of twenty-seven. What were his thoughts and how can they reflect a successful start to leadership in a school?

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