Educational leadership & learning

Sir Tim Brighouse                          Hampshire DHT conference 2014

Successful Leaders in Successful Schools

I was very disappointed to miss out this year on the chance to attend, particularly because the speaker was Tim Brighouse, who has been a leading expert voice on education nationally for many years. Fortunately I had a colleague who kindly collected and talked through a handout for me – thank you Laura.

Below are some points that I found useful to reflect on and hope to remember.

“A child’s failure to learn is a challenge to your teaching strategies not a sign of ability on the part of the child.”

“Transformational Leaders: main job is to establish direction, align people, motivate & inspire, and to produce & sustain change”

  • Three essential skills of leadership: managing change creatively, creative use of time, improving delegation
  • Leadership & Vision: creating energy, building capacity, seeking & chasing improvement, extending & living the vision, being infectiously optimistic, a good listener. Doing the right things, not doing this right, which reminded me of John West Burnham’s view of leaders as ‘path makers’ not ‘path followers’ or ‘path tidiers’
  • A courageous leader: unwarranted optimism, regards crisis as a norm – a challenge which enables learning & growth, manages complexity creatively & with enjoyment, has a bottomless well of intellectual curiosity and a complete absence of paranoia, self-pity, ego, arrogance & belief they always know best
  • A future learning school: the outlook focuses on big question and philosophy to embody real learning
  • Leaders – Managers: most UK organisations are over-managed and under-led, the real challenge is to combine strong leadership and strong management
  • Leaders as learners: strive to be model learners, read & engage in discussions, read recent theories of learning, question current practice, know learning is truly a lifelong experience
  • Creative staff development:  allowing and at times insisting that staff take responsibility, encouraging new experiences & reflecting on these, understanding and permitting specific personal circumstances – though this may fit difficulty with equity within policies & PRP. Respect and mutual trust need to be key principles
  • Outstandingly successful teaching beliefs: success for all, intelligence is multi-faceted, every child needs a worthwhile relationship with at least one adult – hence the power of the whole school community and probably the value of support staff in particular, transformability rather than the ability of the child, a child showing great effort in learning is a positive sign of character
  • Outstandingly successful teaching habits: polish questioning skills, team plan & teach, observe other teachers, treat teaching as a co-operative activity, share leadership & management, teach in corridors & around the school, accept the unpredictability of learning
  • Assessment: of individuals, of schools, of national standards. How much do we allow assessment to dominate the curriculum? How much should it be a support or guide for the curriculum we plan for our children?
  • Context: the fact that political pressures and accountability are key drivers. However there is also the importance of the school and its local community, the staff a leader inherits and the consideration of where the school is on it s journey of improvement
  • You know you’re in a good school when: teachers talk about Teaching & Learning regularly, they observe each other teach, they plan, organise, teach and evaluate together in a collaborative not competitive sense. Again an intriguing challenge for leaders to maintain this culture within a PRP framework.
  • A 2020 school: a curriculum which includes  young people’s experiences, opportunities for co-production & enterprise, pupils access coaching & bespoke learning reinforcement at any time, curriculum anchored in research to sustain creativity, continuous staff development through planned and focused networks with other schools as part of a shared programme of professional development and pupil enrichment
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