Monthly Archives: May 2013

10 things in preparation for Headship

It was good to be with IAPS N1 Deputy Heads this afternoon and to be invited to contribute to the programme along with Neil Jones.

The first session focussed on preparation for Headship which is something I have posted on before; see previous posts.

Today I highlighted:
1. If you are a Deputy Head you should never feel compelled to be a Head. Some Deputy Heads continue to be fulfilled in their role and do not feel called to Headship. It is the right career progression for some, but not for all. Equally, there are other options and you should pursue what is right for you and your family.
2. Seek to gain as much practical experience as you can before becoming a Head. The angle of your learning curve will be proportionate to your experiences, so prepare well; it will enable you to start with greater confidence and self-assurance.
3. Decide what your vision for education is. This will determine the type of school you look for. Do not apply for every job advertised. Be true to what is fundamentally important to you.
4. Get a mentor. The journey will be so much more productive and beneficial. It could be your current Head or someone outside school. Ideally ‘walk the talk’ with your current Head, explore the priorities they set and the decisions they take.
5. Consider what additional training you need e.g. in strategic planning and management, leadership styles, whole School finance, governance etc. Courses – prehaps an MA and/or NPQH or another option.
6. Network and build up a support group. Share ideas and experiences and use it as a way to extend your CPD. Use Twitter and blogs.
7. Establish your work life balance, time for – family and friends, exercise/keeping fit and interests other than school. NB if you become focussed solely on school you will not be able to continue giving.
8. Commit to the highest level of professionalism. Aim to be the very best you can be. First impressions count. Reputations take time to build and can be lost in seconds – you cannot take it back and careers can be ruined. Watch what you say and do – in public and via the social media. This may seem so obvious, but every year a number of Heads misjudge their actions and their career evaporates instantly.
9. The unexpected will happen – often. You need to be able to respond quickly, with confident and keeping an overview – covering all areas/needs. Never assume anything. Ask questions to ensure clarity, monitor progress without micro-managing. Support colleagues and school families. Have a paper trail for everything (it is vital if there is a potential for a ‘situation’ to develop).
10. None of us will ever be the perfect leader. We should never stop learning and developing. Do not be a panda (black and white in your thinking) or an ostrich (with your head in sand to new ideas and developments). Listen to, and reflect on, the views of others. Be open to embracing new ideas and change. Everyday we should be learning from those around us.