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A new government, a new decade, a new start for education?

Trying to predict what the next decade will look like for schools and universities is fraught with difficulty. History is littered with predictions and future projections. Many of these are given with supreme confidence, before they fade conveniently into insignificance as they whiz wide off the mark. According to various experts, scientists and futurologists, we would have landed on Pluto and robots should be doing our laundry by now. Oh, and we’d all be living to 150.

Women in Leadership: Clearing The Path

The world of secondary school leadership has not always been friendly to women. 62% of the teachers in secondary schools are women, yet only 39% of Secondary Headteachers are female. It is about time that those of us who have managed to navigate our way to school leadership, despite the obstacles that we have faced, do something to help those who are following in our wake and push that female Headteacher proportion up to the 62% it should be.

Coaching - Mentoring - Supervision

I now recognise the benefits of coaching and realise, particularly in my field, as an advisory specialist that it builds capacity in schools by allowing leaders to create their own strategy in schools. This also recognises the finite time I have with staff so they must have ownership.
But what of a specialist coach? Is it acceptable for example to have someone coaching a Head who had never been a Head? Coaching skills have taught me when to advise and when to ask questions.

The only thing that is certain is uncertainty!

Things just don’t get done and people become afraid to make bold decisions; for that matter decisions of any kind. Like pouring sand into a clock this will make things slow down, until time just stands still. Almost any plans beyond six months become hypothetical. Yet schools have to be seen to plan three years in advance. Education thrives in the dull, boring, predictable years of national stability and that’s not the times we live in.

Long term memory and lessons learned

Instead therefore of having the kind of long-term plans we see in other jurisdictions around the world, our schools and colleges, their students and teachers are buffeted around in a whirlwind of constant reforms all too often characterized by an oppositional and often uninformed debate from which many teachers and school leaders all too easily feel disenfranchised. Reflecting on 40 years working in the British education system this was the reason behind the question mark in the title of my book ‘Lessons Learned?’ Our entire education system has been bedeviled by a lack of long-term memory for many years. The last year has been incredibly tough. I hope that the new one will give our profession the space and courage to do what they know is right.

School Improvement that Sticks

Every child should have the opportunity to attend a school that can provide a good education, so there will always be an imperative to bring about improvement as quickly as possible. However, the pressure for this to happen rapidly can have both undesired and undersirable consequences.  We see it in schools ‘gaming’ the exam system, in pupils being ‘off-rolled’ to boost schools’ results, in schools not wanting to take pupils with SEN onto their rolls.  We also see it in the declining recruitment and retention figures.

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