Headship: Can you engage with the internal and external school community? #360Review (Part 6 of 6)


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In my sixth and final self-refection on leadership, I offer an insight into my own school leadership appraisal. In this post: Strengthening the community; I pose a series of questions for the reader and offer my very own public #360Review.

I also answer if I am ready for Headship …

You are reading part 6 of a 6-part series of leadership articles on Strengthening the community: ‘Can you engage with the internal and external school community?’ #360Review

  1. The context for this post is here: What makes an outstanding senior leader? #360Review (Part 1)
  2. How would you lead teaching and learning? #360Review (Part 2)
  3. How to develop yourself and work with others? #360Review (Part 3)
  4. Can you manage the school organisation? #360Review (Part 4)
  5. Securing accountability with leadership actions: #360Review (Part 5)
  6. This post.

Can you engage with the internal and external school community?

Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc

This leadership reflection has been taking from the Leadership Standards and falls under two distinct categories and into six key areas.

  • The categories are Knowledge and Professional Qualities.
  • The key areas are Shaping the future; Leading learning and teaching; Developing self and working with others; Managing the organisation; Securing accountability; Strengthening the community.

Strengthening the community : (Knowledge):

The headteacher should know about: current issues and future trends that impact on the school community; the rich and diverse resources within local communities – both human and physical; the wider curriculum beyond school and the opportunities it provides for pupils and the school community; models of school, home, community and business partnerships; the work of other agencies and opportunities for collaboration; strategies which encourage parents and carers to support their children’s learning; the strengths, capabilities and objectives of other schools.” (Knowledge)

  • How do you secure equity?
  • How do you provide entitlement for all staff, students and parents (and external agencies)?
Photo Credit: Ken Whytock via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Ken Whytock via Compfight cc

Here are the key questions to consider, with my own analysis in the photo that follows.

  1. I know about current issues and future trends that impact on the school community.
  2. I know about the rich and diverse resources within local communities – physical.
  3. I know about the rich and diverse resources within local communities – human.
  4. I know about the wider curriculum beyond school and the opportunities it provides for pupils.
  5. I know about the wider curriculum beyond school and the opportunities it provides for the school community.
  6. I know about models of school, home partnerships.
  7. I know about models of school, community partnership.
  8. I know about models of school, business partnerships.
  9. I know about the work of other agencies.
  10. I know about opportunities for collaboration with other agencies.
  11. I know about strategies which encourage parents and carers to support their children’s learning.
  12. I know about the strengths, capabilities and objectives of other schools.

Self-review of Strengthening the community: 

My self-review – in terms of Knowledge – is shown below. I have provided the reader with a comparison of my #360Review between August 2010; compared to this present day. Click to enlarge.

Click to open
Click to open

Self-analysis:

Regarding question 2 above, when reviewing this information: “I know about rich and diverse resources within local communities – physical”; the reasons for indicating I was at a ‘B’ level, is due to the context of completing this 360 review in August 2010/ At this time, I was working in Brent Council. This was 2 years into my first leadership position and the very first time I was completing a self-review. I worked in Brent for 3 years before returning to work in Haringey in 2011; a borough I have lived and worked in since 1997. This may explain why I have now indicated my knowledge competency has improved from B – Meets the statement, to D – Clear strength.

I know Haringey like the ‘back of my hands’ and this asset is vital for any senior teacher. I would not consider myself adept at understanding ‘the bigger Brent Council picture’, even after working there for 3 years. Understanding your local community is significant for engaging with the internal (students; staff) community, as well as the external community (parents and external agencies).

As for questions 11: “strategies which encourage parents and carers to support their children’s learning” and 12: “strengths, capabilities and objectives of other schools”. My development in these areas have grown with experience and knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Learning from wisdom gained from working with headteachers and colleagues, as well as from my own mistakes and those of others.

The increasing use of social media has also allowed senior leaders to keep a closer grip on what other schools are doing as information-sharing and transparency has improved.

Regarding question 6: “know about models of school, home partnerships”. I recognise my knowledge in this area is something limited and that I must improve this under my own ‘pastoral’ repertoire. I am all for promoting school-home partnerships; but know it must be developed into a more strategic model of thought; beyond the bog standard, parental evenings and school events!

Strengthening the community : (Professional Qualities):

The headteacher should be committed to: effective team work within the school and with external partners; work with other agencies for the well-being of all pupils and their families; involvement of parents and the community in supporting the learning of children and in defining and realising the school vision; collaboration and networking with other schools to improve outcomes. The headteacher should be able to: recognise and take account of the richness and diversity of the school’s communities; engage in a dialogue which builds partnerships and community consensus on values, beliefs and shared responsibilities; listen to, reflect and act on community feedback; build and maintain effective relationships with parents, carers, partners of the community, that enhance the education of all pupils.” (Professional Qualities)

  • Is your school improvement and community development interdependent?
  • Is your work, collaborative at both strategic and operational levels?
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc

Here are the key questions to consider, with my own analysis in the photo that follows.

  1. I am committed to effective team work within the school.
  2. I am committed to effective teamwork with external partners.
  3. I am committed to work with other agencies for the well-being of all pupils and their families.
  4. I am committed to involvement of parents in supporting the learning of children.
  5. I am committed to involvement of parents in defining and realising the school vision.
  6. I am committed to involvement of the community in supporting the learning of children.
  7. I am committed to involvement of the community in defining and realising the school vision.
  8. I am committed to networking with other schools to improve outcomes.
  9. I am committed to collaboration with other schools to improve outcomes.
  10. I am able to recognise and take account of the richness and diversity of the school’s communities.
  11. I am able to engage in a dialogue which builds partnerships and community consensus on values, beliefs and shared responsibilities.
  12. I am able to listen to, reflect on community feedback.
  13. I am able to act on community feedback.
  14. I am able to build and maintain effective relationships with parents, carers that enhance the education of all pupils.
  15. I am able to build and maintain effective relationships with partners of the community, that enhance the education of all pupils.

Self-review of Strengthening the community: 

My self-review – in terms of Professional Qualities – is shown below. I have again, provided for the reader, a comparison of my #360Review between August 2010; compared to this present day. Click to enlarge.

Click to open
Click to open

Self-analysis:

The above self-review actually looks a leadership strength from all of the reflective 6-series posts I have written.

For reflection purposes, teamwork; working with parents over the medium and long-term; the wider community and external agencies requires a dogged and sustained approach in leadership. Although this may be limited to specific leadership roles and remits, it is vital that all senior leaders continue to engage with the wider community where possible. As your school may change from year-to-year, so will your local community. It is central to school leadership, that you keep yourself and your senior leadership team up to date and engage to build relationships and sustained partnerships …

The verdict:

Photo Credit: Joe Gratz via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Joe Gratz via Compfight cc

Using national guidance to collate evidence, I should show that I… (with my own summary in red font):

· Fulfil commitments arising from contractual accountability to the governing body. (I am confident this is achieved and sustained through my leadership.)
· Develop a school ethos which enables everyone to work collaboratively, share knowledge and understanding, celebrate success and accept responsibility for outcomes. (I am confident this is achieved and sustained through my current (remit) leadership and acknowledge that with CPD and Teaching and Learning, there is always room to improve.)
· Ensure individual staff accountabilities are clearly defined, understood and agreed and are subject to rigorous review and evaluation. (I am confident this is achieved and sustained through my leadership. We (I) know we must now review our appraisal systems and also look to engage the community in CPD and teaching and learning projects.)
· Work with the governing body (providing information, objective advice and support) to enable it to meet its responsibilities. (I am confident this is achieved and sustained through my leadership. Again, I must look to include wider-partnerships in developing teaching and learning.)
· Develop and present a coherent, understandable and accurate account of the school’s performance to a range of audiences including governors, parents and carers. (Regarding my own role, I am confident this is achieved and sustained with governors, but could do MUCH more to inform parents.)
· Reflect on personal contribution to school achievements and take account of feedback from others. (I am confident this is achieved and sustained. I accept I can always understand my own school and its complex needs, much deeper.)

Conclusions and Suggestions:

It has been quite a feat collating these leadership reviews (see footer) into 6 blogposts. It has provided me with opportunity to reflect; and this is important in itself; but, allow me to conclude with 5 very important questions and 5 short responses:

1. What do I need to do to improve my own leadership?

It’s quite simple. I need to shadow pastoral senior leaders and look at exclusions; the role of SENCO; the wider needs of students beyond ‘just teaching’. The complex nature of leading schools and increased levels of accountability, I know that my curriculum and understanding of data will have to be razor-sharp.

2. How am I going to support myself?

I aim to continue to read; listen carefully to colleagues and shadow senior leaders in my own work. Be open to critique and seize opportunities where I will be challenged and taken out of my comfort zone.

3. Who am I going to seek advice and support from?

It could be time to appoint myself a leadership Mentor. I do not think I will fit into the mould/criteria of Tomorrows Heads or the NPQH programme.

4. Am I ready to apply for headship? And do I want to be a Headteacher?

This is valuable footage from @StephenDrew72: 10 things to do to aspire for Headship at SLTeachMeet in December 2012.

You need to watch the video to understand my answer: It’s quite simple. I do NOT want it enough (yet).

.

5. Headteacher? If so, what are my values and vision?

Well, over the past year I have been working hard to differentiate between both. I am clear, that my vision will come from what school context I am working within and that it will constantly evolve to meet the needs of the school; and that I’ve been even tougher on myself to establish and articulate what my values are. I did attempt to answer this two years ago in just 140 characters but accept I now need to refine this from a potential headteacher’s perspective.

Further reading:

  1. What makes an outstanding senior leader? #360Review (Part 1)
  2. How would you lead teaching and learning? #360Review (Part 2)
  3. How to develop yourself and work with others? #360Review (Part 3)
  4. Can you manage the school organisation? #360Review (Part 4)
  5. Securing accountability with leadership actions: #360Review (Part 5)
  6. This post.

As a follow-up to this series, I plan to describe to you my own vision for leading a school and what, why, how and if; I see myself as a Headteacher of a school.

Feedback welcome …

May 2014: Vision and values: The teacher genetic code and this lovely cartoon below by Paul Wright, which sums up the video from Stephen Drew above.

Cartoon Stephen Drew Headship


3 thoughts on “Headship: Can you engage with the internal and external school community? #360Review (Part 6 of 6)

  1. Ross – I’ve enjoyed reading the series of posts and am impressed at the amount of reflection and soul-searching which has gone into them.

    As you know, my doctorate focusses on the transition from senior leadership to headship, so I’ve been giving quite a lot of thought to this.

    I have six research participants who I’ve tracked through the final months of deputy headship and into the first months of their headships and I’ve learnt a lot from them, in addition to reflecting on my own experience. There are a number of ways you CAN prepare. Identifying the areas in which you’re less confident, shadowing others (especially those you feel are very good at what they do) and being receptive to learning more about those areas (asking the right questions and listening very carefully to the answers) are all good strategies. One of my research participants talked about wanting to go into headship ‘her most prepared self’ (and the pre-appointment period between getting the job and actually taking up the position is key – you can learn a lot and build relationships throughout this time).

    However, you continue (I’m not sure you ever quite complete!) your learning by doing the job – you’ve heard me quote Robert Quinn before, ‘Build the bridge as you walk on it’. I do think, when the time/school is right, you will make a good head. You know I’m happy to support in any way I can.

    (I also remember on the morning of my driving test saying to my instructor, ‘I don’t think I’m ready!’ and his reply, ‘You may never think you’re ready. Go do it.’)

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