New academic year – day 60-70 juggling those plates…

I can’t believe I am nearing the first 100 days…. on one hand I feel so new on the other I feel I have been here for ever. 

Starting a new term is exciting – the last half term we had done some ground work but now we were building on the vision. 

Over the summer I took three weeks to just be me; spending time recharging and enjoying my family time. It is important to recharge and take care of yourself. I don’t think you realise how tired you are till you stop ! 

The last few weeks of the holiday I wanted to be proactive so we could hit the ground running. What was important? What was urgent ? Again back to juggling those plates. Some of the time I spent on the school environment what did I want to feel when I walked in? Love? Warmth, inspiration fun? Aspiration ? What did I want to children to feel? All of the above! 

Aspiration is key to our journey. I want us to exceed our expectations, to aim high, not be driven to do exceptional things  but to do ordinary things exceptionally well! 

It can seem like you have a mountain to climb so it was easier to think about small manageable steps. Starting with the ground work – establish the basics. Setting the high aspiration and high expectations for teaching and learning and wider for our practice in school. Utilise every resource in your team and be a resource for your team. Create a culture of learning for the children and for your staff. Develop leaders at all levels in school – you have to be sustainable. High quality positive relationships with all, the children , the staff and all the stakeholders. 

My team live and breathe the vision for our school with me, we all want to same- to be the very best school at the heart of our community. To do this we all need to know what our roles and responsibilities are and how we contribute to achieving the vision. We are all collectively responsible! 

With budgets getting ever tighter, we all face the day to day challenges of juggling staff, stretching resources and having to think outside the box and be creative with what we have. Utilising staff skills enables effective deployment, high quality CPD enables you to develop skills and builds on what you have. Knowledge and skills develop confidence – enables growth.  

A week in and I can feel the buzz! The children can feel it too. Two great inset days set us all up for our journey. A culture of high aspiration is developing. Teaching and learning is always on our mind, staff share their good practice through the teaching and learning board. This week we have seen old suitcases arrive in school with clues. A teacher arrive at school dressed in military combat, the great Fire of London recreated in the playground ( health and safety was followed!) its magical! Teachers share tweaks of the week- school is buzzing! The children are incredibly proud of their school and when we had our VIP visitors they couldn’t wait to show off their school. This year we have also set up triads so teachers have the opportunities to watch each other and share their practice. 

It’s been a mad and hectic start to the term. I spend most of the day juggling plates and know I need to spend more time being strategic at work rather than operational. This is a personal target I’ve set myself! I’m keeping notes of our journey as it is easy to forget the things you do and the impact they have! I’m lucky to be surrounded by superb support and a great team. Both enable me to grow and become a better leader. 

Small steps … lead to success 

You never know how far you will fly till you spread your wings…. 

Advertisements

Days 40-60 Vision, Values and Virtues 

I’ve survived my first half term and a bit! I left school yesterday with a smile! I had waved goodbye to year six leavers, safely counting them on to the party bus first of course! Hugged the staff who are leaving us for pastures new and went quietly back inside to collect my three trollies!  

I walked through school and smiled as I passed the empty classrooms through the corridors. I had set the teachers a challenge – make your classrooms creative environments that celebrate and inspire our children. Yes I had a list of non negotiables but it didn’t included double back in blue etc etc. I want staff to be creative and think about their learners – how can we make school the most vibrant magical place to be? Corridors and classrooms had started to spring into life with colour everywhere- I know I am watching a garden grow. 

The corridors are mammoth and can look a little like a hospital corridor – a quick fix before the magic begins was getting some inspirational quotes and tiny fairy doors. I stopped at the one near my office and giggled. One little girl had spotted the fairy door earlier and her reaction had caused a crowd to grow, a conversation to develop – it was magical! A boy then slipped his hand in mine and told me “Mrs Ingle the colour is back” had to look away- tears! Something so small had made a difference. Wait till they see what we do in the holidays ! 

We all should love coming to school – never underestimate the environment ! It can drain you and oppress you! Or it can invigorate, stimulate and excite you! I am looking forward to seeing creativity spring into life in the Autumn term. 

Closing my door and walking with the last load to the car- I’m reflective. 

I often walk out of school without ticking anything off my to do list, I beat myself up and ask what have you achieved? I remember Chris talking to us on first NPQH day telling us to write down all the things you do do. I am glad I listened as what we have achieved in a small amount of time is fabulous and we should celebrate what we do do!

As a team, we know where we want to be and how we are going to get there! We have a clear vision. We have policies in place that fit who we are and what we are about. Robust procedures are in place to keep us focused and on track. Our children are happy and safe. We have high expectations of all our children, parents and stakeholders. We are a team all on the same journey determinded to be the very best! I am proud of  the team, I love the fact they are excited to share what went well in school – I love the buzz they have about school, teaching and learning and trying new things. 

Emotional resilience is incredibly important in Headship , I don’t think I realised the weight that can lay on your shoulders. It is so important to have people around you – I have been so fortunate to have superb mentors and people I could turn to. I don’t think they would realise the impact they have had on me or how they have helped clarify things in my head. They have been my heroes and heroines! Selflessly sharing, giving up their valuable time or just simply texting me for a daily update.  

I’ve grown professionally and personally during these 60 days! I have learnt daily. Leadership is complex and a journey. There are many leaders I admire all with very different ideas and traits. But each inspire me in unique ways. Heads I follow on twitter have become twitter friends. Twitter is one of the best forms of CPD and also for support and challenge. Heads within the Trust have a wealth of experience they are happy to share and are always willing to help and support. 

Stakeholders play a key part in school, I am lucky to have a brilliant governor who is an ex head, Peter. He is incredibly supportive as well as challenging my thinking. He has a natural gift with staff and children, he brings such a lot to school and I look forward to the days he is in school. 

While headship can be all consuming, you have to be responsible for you as well. It is important to take time out for yourself. You are no good to anyone if you are burnt out! For the next three weeks I am not going to think about school I am going to simply be me! Mother, wife and friend! I am going to recharge and enjoy every single second ! 

Tigger mode will return and planning will commence for Autumn term. I’m excited to see what it brings ! 

Days 20-40 Reflecting, planning and learning all the time!

Has it really only been 8 weeks? 

I already feel invested in school, I live and breathe it at the moment – it’s the first and last thing I think about! It is all consuming but this investment, this emotional attachement is a driver- a driver that motivates me daily.

The last few weeks have been a whirl wind of activity and time has been filled with looking forward planning and preparing for the future.

As well as school, I have just completed assignments for my NPQH final assessment.  While it has been a challenge to fit it – it has been a good reflective piece of work ! It has enabled me to reflect on the Headteacher standards, the journey I’ve travelled and that I am still travelling, and reflect what had impact before that I could use again. 

I read an article about the head teachers standards in the Guardian by Roy Blatchford which made me reflect … 

Similar to the teaching standards, the Headteacher standards requires a breadth of knowledge and range of skills, and highly developed interpersonal skills.

“Qualities and knowledge. There is the expectation that headteachers should lead by example “with integrity, creativity, resilience and clarity”. In the modern era where change is a constant, raising aspirations in what young people can achieve is demanded by parents, politicians and media”

Modelling what you want to see is paramount to growing, improving and creating your vision. It is surprising how quickly the culture and vision become part of school. You lead and model what you want from children, staff and the community. 

We are all under pressure to produce year-on-year improvements and provide the many extras that make a child’s holistic education – we all want the very best for our children ! This brings a moral purpose for us to lead schools relentlessly in the best interests of the children by valuing both academic achievement and personal growth. Planning for the schools journey which is ever moving forwards is personal to the children, community and school. Each school journey is different, one size doesn’t fit all. It’s about responding to need – what do our children need ? What does our community need ? How can we achieve those things in school – what are our stengths and how can we utilise those to improve further? What are our weaknesses and how can we address those and turn them into strengths- what support is around that we can draw on? 
Being part of a trust brings all the above at your finger tips: utitilise support around you, ask questions no matter how daft they may seem. I have asked many but grown from each one. 

“Pupils and staff. Headteachers must get the best out of students and staff, with a key ambition to secure educational excellence in all the nation’s schools.”  We can make a difference in closing achievement gaps, but only with inspired teaching and an innovative curriculum, which we must lead. Having a continual focus on teaching and learning in all aspects of school life helps us ensure it is always top of the agenda – part of our culture, our ethos our entirety. I have magpied so many ideas from others – Laura – tweak of the week a dedicated agenda on the staff meetings where staff can share good practice – what went well and how it was delivered. Laura – enable tables- having resources, answers , prompts, on a table in the classroom to create a culture of self help – independent learners who are self motivated and driven. Pete- shared his teaching and learning board which have focuses on areas of teaching and learning where staff are able to share practice and magpie good ideas. This creates a culture of reflective practice and a desire to grow.
We can do this through ensuring that best practice in the classroom is shared within and between schools, drawing on and conducting relevant research and robust data analysis. In addition, we are always looking  to identify emerging talents in the team and coach existing and aspiring leaders Sure we are able to plan ahead for succession. 
” Systems  and process. No factory, hospital, department store or school can be at its best unless underpinned by “rigorous, fair and transparent” systems, effective financial planning and governance” I have spent a lot of time looking at systems and processes over the past few weeks- I’m still learning but feel we are beginning to get those processes and systems in place. I want to hit the ground running in September so everyone is clear about their roles and responsibilities. Staff will know the systems and processes which will enable us to have clear direction. Monitoring and assessment time lines ensure we know what we are monitoring, the impact and the next steps we need to take to improve things further.  Outcomes from monitoring are then fed back into the next round of monitoring creating a cycle we grow by.  Budget setting and planning for the future is an area I am having to quickly learn; having a school business manager and the Trusts director of Finances experience is vital to me as a new head. It often not till you become a head you have fundamental dealings with a budget. 

“The self-improving school system. Schools, even in rural villages, are not islands – students and staff benefit from focused opportunities to share best practice”

This statement struck a cord with me, my school is in a rural village with limited transport networks, limited mobile phone coverage which brings with it challenges. We could be very isolated … instead we are in a trust family- a family of schools each different but with same desires and beliefs. Someone always has the answer, there is always someone who has something that you need . There is no need to reinvent the wheel as someone has the wheel ready- tried and tested. Experience and support is on hand, opportunities for children to look outside their own community are available. We are outward facing and part of a family that share a wealth of experience, good practice and innovation.

It doesn’t feel like it has only been 8 weeks, it feels like I have been apart of school for much longer. Perhaps because it has been so action packed or perhaps I have just found where I want to be. 

I love my job 

Day 15-20 the road to success is a squiggle

I promised myself when writing this blog about the first 100 days I’d be honest. Having read a lot of articles, books and listening to speakers talk about leadership- you sort of get the impression you have a vision and go from A to B. What no one really talks about is it isn’t a straight line from A to B it’s full of twists and turns, obstacles and highs and lows. 

This week has been hard, it’s been reflective, emotional, thought provoking and made me even more determined.

There have been clear lows when I have got in the car, beaten myself up ( I’ll call this reflection ) gobbled tea, grunted at my husband and daughter and ploughed on with work, fell in to bed and then got up and repeated the process again. 

I honestly believe it is good to feel like that ( at times this week I haven’t felt that way! ) it makes you clarify your vision and what you need to do to get there, it enables you to learn hard and uncomfortable lessons that make you evaluate and unpick issues. It has given me clarity, a plan of action, a sense of sheer and utter determination. I have grown this week for sure. 

As a profession we always focus on the negative, what ever happens that we didn’t want to happen over clouds the good things that have happened. I’ve let this happen this week, I’ve let something over shadow an amazing  week! Learn from things, grow but celebrate what has been a success. 

Monday we had our Inset day delivered by the very talented Laura Wookey, an amazing lead practitioner for the trust led a great Inset on growth mindset. Three new staff joined my team, the staff welcomed them into the team and the room was filled with laughter and learning. So much talent within the team with more talent starting – September is looking exciting. 

We had lots of visitors this week, NFER phonics screening and external writing moderation. Both headteachers of their own schools at some point in their careers. Both complimented me on my school, the warmth and welcoming atmosphere and the high quality staff and fab children. They saw what I see daily. 

I am beginning  to plan for September – looking at skill sets, CPD for staff and how to shape the amazing talent that is already there. It’s exciting to plan for the future. At times Headship feels like firefighting , more operational that strategic. I often ask myself is this how it is? Or my inexperience ? I’ll let you know! 

My deputy, Jen is amazing, she is going to make a fantastic head one day.  She is a great critical friend, we are different but our thinking is the same. She has been amazing this week- well every week- but this week I couldn’t have done it without her! 

We have new children starting and that is as a result of people talking In the village – the schools great go and look. Facebook page for parents is going down well and I am really excited to see how we can develop this.

Heads Away day with the trust and schools teaching alliance was a highlight this week, networking with talented and experienced leaders enables you to get support from others. The teaching alliance offer must have know my CPD need for next year as it is all there! Looking forward to next years triad and networking already. 

The Trust held their awards evening this week to celebrate the talented children and staff across their school. It was huge event that celebrated trust values, the children were buzzing! Such incredible memories made that will stay with them forever.  

Sitting in the garden now , sun is shining – reports in front of me to read. Reflecting on the week, while it’s been hard, i have survived, I’ve grown and I am proud of my school. I really do love my job and I am truly excited about the adventure we are on. 

Day 10-15 heroes and heroines … 

This week has been a week of heroes and heroines .. there have moments of Tigger and moments of Eeyore. 

Headship can be lonely if you allow it to be! You can get overwhelmed with the mountain ahead and the obstacles that get in your way if you allow them too! Trust in the support around you! Never be afraid to ask! Learn daily, grow daily, look forward not back- grow and succeed. 
Staying focused on what is truly important to you as a leader guides you through, planning for change and growth is key. But having heroes and heroines supporting you is the key to success. 

Heroes and heroines come in all different forms. This week I have seen many.

Children: the children have embraced change and walking around school I watch them beaver away in lessons – a gentle hum of engagement makes me swell with pride. Around the corridors of school children greet me with smiles and “how are you?” As I peak into rainbow room ( a structured nurture group in the afternoon for children with special education needs and emotional and social diffeiculties ) I find myself smiling as I watch the children interact with two amazing teaching assistants who are passionate about the right kind of nurture. The collaboration and trust in the group is built and progress is phenomenal. I often pass find myself wandering in just so I can share the experience.

Team: I have watched my team grow and develop, they work hard and have a real passion for what they do. They have embraced change and driven it forward to make school a magicial place to be. I feel incredibly supported and know that what ever decisions we make – we make it for our children and our community. My SLT team are supportive and again embrace change- they are excellent critical friends! 

Governors – I have a hero governor who is an ex head with a wealth of experience at his finger tips- his support and challenge is pivotal. He shared a blog he had written during his last fifty days – I have read it with comfort and laughter and smiled at while times change problems are similar .  He inspires me, challenges me and supports . 

Heads and networks- being new to Headship and new EYFS especially, there are often things I don’t know!  But someone does! Knowing I can pick up the phone and someone can walk me through things I am unfamiliar with is brilliant. Two this week – one experienced  inspiration head that lives not far from my school always has an answer and she has a talent of never making me feel like anything is a daft question- she shares her experiences and is willing to help. Kim you are a amazing. Her DH works with her as she is an EYFS specialist – totally out of my comfort zone, Sarah the DH  is EYFS she lives and breathes it- I have learnt so much ! Her passion is infectious – she has created an EYFS bible for me.  I spend a lot of time in EYFs and I’m learning and growing . Expertise is all around you, tap into them – you are not expected to know everything, you ask, you learn, you grow and you get better at the job. 

The trust: having worked for the local authority for most of my teaching life working for the trust is a breath of fresh air. I have had most of the trust in this week for different reasons. Graeme for QA helping me with action plans, target setting, challenge and support. Zoe budget setting with me and my talented SBM. Nick -health and safety walk and getting me a new fence – double hero Nick 🙂 and Chris whose support knows no bounds, who inspires me greatly to be more to grow more and to believe. And Paul who knows what to say at the right time! It is an amazing team of talented, passionate professionals and I am proud to work for such an inspirational trust. 

I love my job ! 

Days 5-10… 

Learning all the time…

Days five to ten, key stage one SATS tests, safeguarding audit and writing moderation. And a swarm of bees! What a week! 

This week I have often thought of the many leadership books and blogs I’ve read to remind myself what people have shared about their first 100 days,  things like:

Take stock, listen and observe

Plan daily every thing you do is being observed

Be welcoming 

State where you are going 

Stage manage meetings

Be visible 

Be open and honest 

Develop a positive culture 

Have a compelling vision 

Remember that behaviour changes before beliefs do

See change from different perspectives 

Listen and reflect 

Have a time table for change

Network

Celebrate good things 

Perhaps the one I use daily is “will it benefit our children?” I ask myself this question a lot. 

I spent a lot of time this week having one to one meetings with staff, this was time well spent – I learnt so much by listening and observing staff share their thoughts and beliefs. The staffs passion for their school and community is inspiring. They work hard, long hours and go above and beyond. They want the best outcomes for the community and for the children.  It was evident they see challenges, the same ones I see.  Reflecting on these conversations has enabled me to clarify my thoughts and has confirmed the direction we are travelling is one we all believe in. The vision begins…

What I plan to do, often doesn’t happen- to do lists grow and not a lot gets ticked off. At times I find this  frustrating and often drive home questioning what I have actually achieved. Is this normal I wonder ? 

Being visble is key, when I think back to my first few days every time I said “morning” wearing a smile- parents looked at me and didn’t really respond at all- by the end of the second week parents were speaking to me. The school corridors are filled with good mornings, hellos and how are you greetings. It’s a pleasure to listen to the greetings. Children walk through the corridors calmly, my cliperty clip round the corridors remind children to walk calmly, I smile inside as I catch them slowing down. 

I am filled with pride as pupils share their work with me, this week I was moved by my year five children as they wrote to the Manchester community following the tragedy- the children’s thoughtful, kind and compassionate words inspired me. The teachers tenderness dealing with such a tragic subject was inspirational. The school Facebook post was shared by nearly four thousand people! Our children touched the lives of many with their compassion – powerful!

The safeguarding audit was enlightening and I learnt a lot that day. Even though I have been a designated person for a long time as a head you need to be familiar with so much more. It’s the same with Health and Safety you know a little but as a head you need to have a clear overview – ultimately you are responsible for both. 

Never miss an opportunity … a swarm of bees decided our quad area would make a lovely new home. Pest control don’t deal with bees, so we called in a local bee keeper who helped us. He then offered to spend a day in school to share how honey is made and why bees are important to the environment. 

It’s now half term and I’m already thinking ahead to September, three new members of staff are joining the team. June’s Inset day will be preparing for September, being part of a trust enables expert help at your finger tips- the lead for teaching and learning will be delivering growth mindset and enable table training for us. 

So what did I achieve ?

Three polices written

Meeting one to one with staff

Survived safeguarding Audit

Survived bee swarm and got a free visitor into school 

Three action plans written 

Rag rated SIP with SLT

I remembered when assembly time was! 

Nurture room and group sorted with all interventions linked to boxall profiles

Timetables done

Ordered a new computer system! 

And I learnt something new daily!

Even though there are moments of  frustration and there just aren’t enough hours in day – the majority of the time I really do love this new role! 

The first five days …

The first five days of headship have flown by… it’s been a roller coaster of emotions… but I love it! 

Even though I had spent a lot of time at the school, driving in to school on my first day I felt like a child starting school. The car was filled with my school life and I was ready to move in ( not had the chance to unpack  yet!)

I was greeted by the schools business manager and a smile. Staff have been so welcoming as have children and parents. I feel I belong already! 

Monday we interviewed for an EYFS lead and I was glad of the support from the Director of Quality Asssurance, he knows the school inside and out and the support of an expert in Early Years. We appointed and I could start to see my team developing. The rest of Monday flew by with popping into classes, quickly grabbing hellos in the corridors. School is busy all the time- each school has a different kind of busy, it is key to keep this in the for front of your mind.  

Tuesday met with SLT and looked at behaviour for learning, engaging hard to reach students. )As a fresh pair of eyes you see things people that have been living the situation don’t see. ) key pupils needed a different approach, systems were not working. Time to think outside the box! One of the challenges all schools face is being creative with the stretched resources and limited funds available. I’m lucky the school has an abundance to space to be creative, turning one empty room into a nurture room enabled us to support hard to reach learners with significant needs. Lunch times were an issue and so were the afternoons – from next week a structured nurture group will run at lunch times. 

At every opportunity I was visible, mornings, after schools, popping into classes, walking the corridors- getting to know the school, catching children doing the right thing, praising the children for their conduct around school. It’s amazing how quickly children have picked up on this, even before they see me coming along the corridor … they are walking calmly.  This has helped develop the high expectation and culture. 

Staff work incredibly hard! They are dedicated and resourceful. But at times stretched, we have had staff sickness this week which impacts on cover. Everyone has chipped in and as a team we worked through it.  I have even done my first stint in EYFS! 

Wednesday I actually managed to turn the laptop on at work, write two polices and answer some emails. I met with some parents and some staff.  Top tip don’t beat yourself up – you are only human and there are only so many hours in a day! One step at a time is my new motto! 

Thursday informal health and safety audit from my old head! I proudly showed him round school!  We had an emergency with a child having a seizure and had to call an ambulance. Staff were incredible and the child was fine thank goodness – then filled in all the paperwork! ( not so keen on the paperwork) 

It’s now Friday morning, and I’m waiting to see what it brings. 

Everyday I have had a text or a phone call from the director of quality assurance, as a new head this has been invaluble sharing good things, discussing challenges- or just asking questions. Having support around you is key, recognising your limitations and asking advice helps clarify things in your mind! 

I have taken many things on board this week and learnt daily! The week I had planned didn’t happen- the to do list hasn’t got done.  But I have started to get to know the staff, children and the community. 

We launched the school Facebook page and this was received well. The community communicates a lot through social media and this will enable us to enhance communication further. 

The week hasn’t been without its challenges… the village is in a rural blackspot! Mobile phones don’t work inside school, wifi is hit and miss – have a meeting on Monday with the ICT providers.

Top tips:

Be present and visible

Use the expertise around you

Model what you want to see! 

Share your practice, it is amazing how many people are in roles they haven’t had support for!  Invested in putting  the support in place. 

Start to create the culture you wish to see from the minute you walk through the door. 

Smile and be positive even when you feel like you are paddling against the tide. The staff need you! 

Don’t take things personally! 

Make notes as they pop into your head, start to visualise what your vision is for the children, staff and community. Then action them. 

Reflection: I love being a head, I get a buzz from walking through the doors each morning. I’m grateful I work for such a forward thinking and supportive trust! I couldn’t ask for a harder working and supportive team. 

It truly is a fantastic job !