Pam Curtis, Headteacher of the primary campus at Priory Witham Academy, has a motto which will resonate with many school leaders reading this: “It takes three years to improve a school and six weeks to allow it to fail.” For those who lead schools, they know that many years of hard work and success can very quickly be put at peril, and that school improvement takes time, perseverance and a strong dose of resilience!
“The teacher development programme led by Kyra was powerful because it had a strong onus on ‘peer to peer’ support – the teachers leading the programme were from schools just down the road and they too were doing the job ‘day in day out’.”
- Amongst the urgency to bring about change, invest time, early on, in ‘looking and listening’: do this, for example, through observation, reviewing the data, and speaking with staff, parents and with children about their experiences;
- Set clear expectations early on around standards, ensuring staff are aware that they have your full support in working towards and exacting those expectations;
- Look to identify internal staff who can have the talent and people skills to ‘step up’ to support you to lead improvement and bring people along with you;
- Look to your networks to identify talented teachers beyond the school who are ready to ‘step up’ and to enable you to lead improvement where you do not currently have capacity;
- As a headteacher, identify a trusted and credible peer who can act as a sounding board and provide a second opinion (and a degree of constructive challenge) when making key decisions;
- Invest in leadership and teacher development led by credible peers in other local schools – for example, a credible teaching school alliance. This will enable trust to develop quickly, and open up opportunities for colleagues to access wider professional development opportunities and networks;
- Ensure all senior leaders are committed to their own learning and that of others. Senior leaders need to model this to inspire it in others. Make the commitment to learning and self-improvement a ‘non –negotiable’.