10 Senior Leadership Resolutions

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Have you revisited your new year resolutions yet?

Life in any school leadership team is pretty full on so it’s important to press pause, take stock and make some professional pledges and promises. Now we are well into the new year, it is a good time to revisit your values and reaffirm your commitments.

We are always searching for ways to make make our schools better places for staff to work and students to learn. Schools are exceptionally busy places and term time is frenetic so spending time to reflect is important.

10 leadership resolutions for senior leaders

At the start of the year I jotted down some generic resolutions for senior leaders. Take a look for yourself and see if any of these apply to you and whether you can build them into your plans for the rest of the year ahead. Remember, resolutions can be made at anytime of the year. They can also be edited, so maybe its time to move some of your pawns into new positions.

1. Put ‘me’ first

Look after yourself and be mindful of your own mental and physical health. Ensure you can be the resilient, positive, optimistic, courageous, patient, pragmatic and passionate leader your school needs.

2. Top-up hope

Find ways to regularly refill your ‘reservoirs of hope’. Seek out positive interactions with staff and students. They are not hard to find on a learning walk.

3. Walk the talk

As leaders it is vital that we model the highest expectations in everything you do – remember the standards you walk past are the standards you condone! When a school leader walks past a problem (or even a piece of litter) it sends a powerful (and damaging) message to the school community. So set yourself the challenge of finding a way of resolving that one thing you always walk past each week but know is not quite right.

4. Be professionally nosy

Stay curious by reading and researching leadership and school improvement. This will help you develop the strategies needed to unblock the most stubborn challenges your school faces. Few problems can withstand the onslaught of persistent effort. Remember, all leaders are readers so set up a ‘reading club’ for your Senior Leadership Team (SLT). Read one leadership book each per term and then report back as a team sharing personal reflections and professional relevance.

5. Upgrade staff wellbeing

Prioritise staff welfare and develop and implement sensible ways to reduce workload. Find ways to serve your staff to support and value them in their daily work as part of a happiness culture.

6. Be unrelenting

Keep the ceaseless focus on improving students’ learning and progress through the continuous improvement of high-quality teaching and leadership. Add in an extra learning walk per week to visibly lead improvements in teaching and learning by supporting colleagues via coaching and mentoring.

7. Keep the purpose

Ensure everything you do demonstrates your strong and deep-rooted sense of moral purpose. Bring something non-urgent but important back up the priority list.

8. Promote trust and togetherness

Proactively promote an altruistic collaborative culture in which openness to scrutiny is the norm. Encourage an active willingness to share and promote best practice as these are key agents of accelerated improvement. Visit another school within or outside your federation/trust/area to help seek out new ideas and promote impactful collaboration.

9. Fight for what’s right

Actively champion the vulnerable and advocate social justice with an unwavering conviction that all students can be successful in spite of their circumstances or background. Education is an escalator not a conveyor belt. Challenge anyone who labels or makes excuses for underachievement.

10. Nurture

Identify and nurture the talent in your school (there will be lots). It is useful to regularly review which staff in your school would be placed into the following categories – positives (those who reliably do a good job day in day out), multipliers (those who add real value to your school by empowering others), negatives (those who do not do a reliably good job each day) and dividers (those who infect others with their negative influence). So whose ‘seat on the bus’ can be moved so their positive impact is magnified? Who might need to get off the bus?

There is little doubt that school leadership is increasingly challenging and it is therefore vital we take a moment each day to look after our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of our staff. It is also critical to take stock of how we are using the precious and finite resource of our time to ensure we can have the greatest positive influence on the lives of our students – they only get one shot at school and the central task of school leadership is to make very day the best it can be them all.

David Howe

David is headteacher of a large 11-18 secondary school, working in the role since 2014. Additionally, David has worked as an assessor for Advanced Skills Teachers and has over a decade of experience as an Ofsted inspector. David has been a teacher for 25 years and in that time he has worked in seven different schools – both in the UK and overseas. He has held a variety of school leadership roles and been a member of senior leadership teams for the past 15 years. His particular interests in education are social mobility, pedagogy and leadership.

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