by Annie Grant
‘When you are a headteacher, everything you do is about communicating your vision, ‘ Andrew Roach, Director of Education at GEO Academies in Surrey told delegates attending the fifth session of the 2017/18 Aspiring Leaders course. And delegates’ own values – the reasons they came into teaching, why they wanted to be leaders – were at the heart of this very practical day.
It started with a challenge. Two volunteers were asked to present to the group at short notice. With just ten minutes to prepare, they delivered a short presentation about their plans to move their schools forward, and received constructive feedback on their performance.
During the rest of the morning, the group considered the multitude of spoken and written communications that headteachers engage in as part of their day-to-day work. They considered how to tackle areas they found most daunting, especially those difficult conversations with colleagues in relation to capability, and discussed the importance of a whole-school policy in areas such as communicating with parents. They also thought about how to reflect the values of the school through attention to detail in external communications.
In the afternoon, delegates learnt about Gregorc’s thinking styles and completed a short self-assessment task to identify their own thinking styles, and considered the potential impact of different thinking styles on approaches to communication.
Next, the group shared short written accounts, prepared in advance, which focused on initiatives delegates had led that had a positive impact on pupil outcomes. The group scrutinised them all and provided helpful feedback on structure and clarity.
Towards the end of the session, the group considered a range of hypothetical scenarios – how, for example, would they deal with a local resident complaining about parking on awards evening? They observed each other role playing a senior leadership meeting – how did they perform in a team?
Finally they returned to those tricky conversations about capability. Delegates discussed how they would approach conversations with colleagues whose performance was causing concern.
‘It all comes back to the child,’ Andrew Roach reminded them. ‘We owe it to the children not to put off those difficult conversations because it is their learning that is at stake.’