Podcast 82: Do What Matters, Not What Gets Measured

Reading time: 2
Jim Henderson Headteacher

Joshua McGovern

Joshua McGovern has been working with Teacher Toolkit since March 2018. He is responsible for our Soundcloud and iTunes channels and is the production manager for podcasts. He has a degree in Music Production and is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University. Aside from working...
Read more about Joshua McGovern

How can schools and teachers do what matters, rather than what gets measured?

Our 82nd interview is with Jim Henderson, a former headteacher who now consults for science departments across the country. We discuss the transition from full-time employment to being self-employed in education…

What do headteachers do after headship?

In this podcast, listen to Jim and Teacher Toolkit founder, Ross McGill discuss his childhood memories of school and what motivated Jim to become a teacher. We hear more about his adventures at university and when the ‘teacher conversation’ was first posed as a possible career, then discover more about his work as a science teacher in and around London, unpicking his 34 years working in education, particularly teaching at schools going through a ‘rough patch.’

Listen to the podcast (26 minutes)

30+ years working across education…

Jim skims over his 28 years of leadership, seven of them as a headteacher, and talks more about his ‘creative’ headship jobs and his experience of headteacher ‘rebuild’ positions and why he now wanted something different. Jim essentially wanted to get back to the core matter of curriculum, so we hear him explain more about his love for science and his work to date in schools across the country.

The fear and realities of changing career!

Ross asks Jim about his ‘fears’ about stepping away from full-time employment and a regular income and a ‘worst-case scenario’ strategic plan and how this fear suddenly shifted towards ‘excitement’ and why he ‘jumped in’. Jim continues to explain some of the practicalities a teacher needs to address when considering moving away from a full-time income: Building upon a core idea of what it is someone would want to do, then working on initial brand-building concepts from strategy, website and straplines, talking to lots and lots of people to consolidate ideas and refine “what it is you can bring and more importantly, what schools might want”, including, what one is worth…

Finding out what schools need…

Jim then discusses the projects he is working on under the name ‘Kaleidoscope Education‘ and why he chose to separate his identity and align himself to a business. We learn why ‘outside expertise’ is essential to support teachers to help them improve their practice, as well as being a supportive voice of reason for headteachers working in the job and hear some examples of the challenges some of our schools are facing.

What wisdom would you share with the profession?

Jim explains the importance of senior leaders creating culture and ethos in schools and how they must manifest this in their behaviours: The things they do and say and why the craft of teaching is essential to empower teachers working at the chalkface. Since starting teaching in 1984, Jim explains how he has witnessed the erosion of teacher autonomy in English classrooms, for example, graded observations, and why micro-teacher accountability can now be challenged by teachers using social media. Jim believes this shift over the last few years has been critical for renewing teacher agency, particularly for initiating change, and whilst accountability has been a good thing for education to raise the bar, it has become a monster which is too high-stakes.

Jim offers much advice to headteachers and shares the wisdom he wished he had been given when starting out in school leadership.

Find out more about Jim’s work and how he can support the teaching of science in your school. Visit KaleidoscopeEducation.co.uk

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