I never hit the snooze button at 5:15am. I jump straight into the shower and onto my bike, with determination and urgency. The ride to work through the famous Greenway is about 3.4 miles long and takes approximately 15 minutes. It is the only time that I have my thoughts completely to myself. I call this time my ‘reflection’ time for the day ahead.
One of the questions I find myself asking is, is there anything that I could do differently today? The following lines ring true in my mind: “The challenge is to always improve, to always get better, even when you are the best. Especially when you are the best.”
- James Kerr, Legacy.
Other questions I ask myself are:
What can I do today to improve the school?
What else can we do to gain a competitive advantage?
How can I keep people on their toes and motivated?
What can we do less to make people's lives a lot easier?
One of the reasons I ask myself these questions is because I realise having energetic and well-motivated staff is absolutely fundamental to get to where I want us to be. Daniel Coyle beautifully captures this in his book The Culture Code by stating, “The goal needs to be to get the team right, get them moving in the right direction, and get them to see where they are making mistakes and where they are succeeding.”
When I get into my office, it’s straight into my ‘Golden Time,’ when I usually clear my inbox, get my schedule ready for the day, compile my to-do list, complete any important tasks for the day ahead before I get on the phone to Dawn (our Operations Manager) to see how we are doing on the staffing front for the day. One thing being a headteacher for the last year and a half has taught me is the art of organisation; I do not know how I would survive without my task management organiser G-Task. On any given day, I would have anything between four to five crucial meetings, while also keeping an eye on the 150-200 emails that land in my inbox, dealing with unplanned staffing matters on top of all of my other duties and routines. The best way I can describe this is having your fingers in 10 different pies all at the same time.
Being around and proactive visible leadership is very important to me; especially as it is a key priority area for me in my School Development Plan this year. I often like to say ‘do not wait to be given tasks to complete - bring ideas to the table.’ Whether it is on the gate in the mornings, dropping into lessons or seeing how the non-teaching staff are. I always rejoice in greeting people with a smile and a ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’. Greeting people with smiles and seeing them smiling back, genuinely brightens up my morning, and even my day!
When I hear outsiders speaking about the school in a negative manner, I usually spend a bit of time talking to them debunking their myth by telling them how great we are. In the past, I have invited some of them to come and tour the school and see how orderly and calm we are. Everyone that I have invited to look at the school leaves completely mesmerised how polite our students are, how well behaved they are and how orderly and structured the school is. I truly feel that COVID-19 has set us back. If COVID-19 didn’t happen, we would have had Ofsted by now and we would have had a favourable judgement. Often, when I show people around the school, especially other serving headteachers, the ultimate feedback that I always get is that our school is Outstanding. I have made a pledge, which is if we don’t get a visit by the end of the Spring term, I will personally call them and ask them to come in so they can rubber-stamp our Outstanding status and rid us of our last judgement.
We are an Outstanding school. Come and visit us. Our students are polite, well mannered and well behaved, our outstanding behaviour and engagement systems allow our teacher to teach without getting bogged down with classroom behaviour management. We have a proven broad and balanced curriculum which will ensure our students achieve outstanding outcomes when they leave us given their starting point when they join us in Year 7. And our biggest asset is our very own Dynamic Progress Reporting system which has revolutionised our approach to every aspect of our Teaching and Learning.
As a headteacher, I continually pledge to make the school one of the best in the country. We owe it to our students, parents and our community. I truly believe this will happen soon. Success is only around the corner and we will bask in all its glory.