Mary-Jo Hill

19 Oct 2021
As this half term comes to a close, there are some really exhausted leaders and teachers. Rebuilding stamina and rebuilding school culture has only just begun.

As the half term comes to its end, the reality is that many school staff are hanging on by a thread. Keeping classes going with a teacher, not a teaching assistant, is a real challenge as a direct result of staff absences. Juggling these staff and pupil absences are more choppy than they have ever been. And so the driving school improvement leadership changes from the beginning of term and Inset days are gradually dissipating under the real weight of extreme tiredness, fatigue and exhaustion. We cannot underestimate the bewildering aspects of the extreme change of pace.

Building personal and team stamina

This change in pace is a factor that is always important to hold in a coaching session. The necessity to be able to make a gear shift change from cruising in 5 (you can tell how old my car is) to gear 1 or 2 is quite profound. This can take us unawares. It is always important to note as a client and coach how this manifests. Will the ‘coachee’ be struggling to own the space for themselves (absolutely). Will they feel frustrated at this and not be able to remove themselves from the action of doing to thinking? (probably). What does it take to notice these factors and then embrace this stark change in pace of thought and action? (Joint effort).

Coaching for heads, executive heads and senior leaders has never been more crucial. Many are just holding on by a thread. It will directly help navigate the tensions between leadership and the oh so lengthy and non-ending management that will continue for the rest of the year. Headteachers hold a lot for their staff. This post reminds us of the need for leadership action in this.

Read more: It will be a long haul, what pit stops have you planned?

Re-building school culture – starting with the staff

And the most notable thing this half term is the real challenge of how to re-build the culture of your school. With goodwill at net zero or even in deficit right now, the greatest challenge is how to re-build the culture that you as a headteacher and leader have taken so many years to build. The need for some real team building and shared activities for all staff in March or April of next year is worth booking now. Physical adventure at Hilltop Outdoor Centre or inspire a competitive spirit with Fakenham Superbowl. The main thing is actually getting staff in the same space and in the flesh.

I have the real privilege of currently coaching a couple of assistant heads at the moment. Stuck more starkly than ever in the neverland of never pleasing anyone but fighting for those on the ground. The everyday emergencies present, whilst supposedly also taking on leadership execution. A recipe for stress and no real satisfaction. Protected time for them is only championed by their line manager.

Still. we have all made it in some disguise back at school in this half term. A real achievement. Some of you have also had Ofsted and embraced enormous changes to your curriculum. I commend you and all the children that, on the whole, have bounced back. Wishing everyone some slower paced activity during this half term break.