“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.” Richard II, Act 5, Scene 5
The optimal school leader is proactive, personable and pragmatic. The common theme throughout these qualities is time. A proactive leader ensures that deadlines are adhered to and best laid-plans are not forgotten. They are willing to make time for others, listen attentively and take onboard contrasting viewpoints. Pragmatism means they can prioritise the most important tasks to hand and make sensible decisions.
After 24 years as a teacher you learn a few things about the job. Within this 24 years I have had time as a head of department (four as Head of French, and the last ten as a head of a large, vibrant modern languages department) and this has really enabled me to learn about myself. Just as with teaching, as a head of department I am still learning but have collected a few top tips. So here are my top nine things I’ve learnt about this job.
Does good leadership and an inclusive ethos benefit a school’s whole community? It is my view that headteachers and governors who lead the way when it comes to those pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), who share their practice and continue to champion SEND, see the benefits across their school.
There is no perfect way to lead. An effective school leader adjusts their leadership style to improve results within their school. A leader with a breadth of pedagogical knowledge, who provides hands-on support, will often win the respect of their staff. On the other hand, a relaxed school leader who delegates tasks and mentors individual teachers can also create an amazing teaching and learning environment.
“To become a leader, you must first become a human being.” Confucius
I started this post just as we awaited the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize winner 2017. Nobel Peace Prize winners are leaders who, through their passion, determination and influence, fight for causes close to their own hearts - with much wider societal and global benefits. They are inspired and moved enough to insist and persist, leading a cause with fire and enthusiasm for the good of humanity. This year’s award was to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. “ICAN” – what a hugely important cause, and a great campaign name which embodies a leadership attitude: “I can”.
A good timetable is a key to quality education for pupils and to an ergonomic working environment for teachers. The task of creating a balanced schedule for everyone is difficult. The cloud-based application Skolaris produces timetables that bring high level of satisfaction to both students and staff.
“What do you want to achieve as a school leader? What traits will you focus on?” For me, when considering the traits that foster good leadership, you need to start by really considering the people you work with. I saw this quote on Dr. Marcia Tate’s Twitter feed yesterday, and I think it says it all. Good leadership needs to have an outward focus where we as school leaders are always looking to empower and encourage others.
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the Daily Mirror’s front page headline grabbing declaration which stated very boldly ’50 kids a week sent to Sex Change clinics’ with a subheading ‘Record number of referrals as parents seek help for children as young as four’ (23rd October 2017). It certainly wasn’t the most sensitive headline, but it did highlight the fact young people are accessing the Gender Identity Development Service in increasing numbers.