I spent an interesting and reflective half-morning ‘Finding the lessons’ with the Real David Cameron (@realdcameron) and Tim Brighouse in the company of our expert and experienced Senior Leader Clare Ross, thank to the generosity of Hays Education. Their aim was to share some thoughts, ask some questions and engage a room of school leaders in conversation and thinking about their leadership and it’s impact. This required some well needed slowing of pace and quality time for clarity of thinking.
Inside the head of a school leader…
The key ideas that Clare and I took from the session that are pertinent within our context were:
- Progress, development focui, workload…have to be manageable and sustainable, otherwise they will not become embedded, effective or have long term sustained impact (this reminded me a little of a previous blog of mine: Succinct Understand Apply Embed
- The evaluation of all that we do should be on the impact it has on the learners (both the children and adults in our schools). The key question is “so what?” (the question I keep on a post-it on my computer screen)
- The importance of adapting new ideas into current practice (assimilating) rather than adopting them wholescale with no cohesion between current practice and new ‘potential silver bullet’
- How as leaders we should ask more questions than provide answers. We want our staff to continue to grow as empowered, independent thinking, reflective professionals. For us at Cornerstone I think this is encapsulated in our definition of ‘Growing an Inspirational Learning Community’
- That as leaders we need to identify and analyse those actions that require low effort but result in high impact
- Finally that we need to consider in the busyness of the role of senior leader, and indeed school staff generally, what are the key plates to keep spinning and which can be allowed to slow or dropped
Other points that David and Tim made that resonated were that genuine change can only come from within (whether personally or as an organisation). That as Leaders we create the climate within schools through every word, action and interaction.
That in the education system we are working in a period of constant change, with time often being taken up dealing with structural change. There has been a decentralisation of blame and an overemphasis on leadership.
“We’re caught in a trap…when you don’t believe a word I say…we can’t go on together with suspicious minds.”
What we really need in schools is energetic and enthusiastic staff, who are well supported and nurtured, and are passionate about and committed to learning and improvement.
Challenge accepted David and Tim!