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How heads can stay relevant
 I have spent a lot of time in meetings, at conferences and attending networking events. As Head, I am seen as the school’s figurehead but I have many more administrative tasks than I anticipated.
I have, of course, also spent plenty of time in school. I regularly observe lessons, go on walkabouts, and spend a lot of time talking
to pupils and parents. I have an open-door policy which enables people to drop by when I am
free. I do have a presence around school but, I know that no matter how much I think that, there are people who believe I do not. Quite simply, I cannot be in six places
at once, which is what the head teacher role often demands.
Being a head is the most rewarding job and I love its
daily challenges, but it is a dilemma trying to work out how to juggle the many daily tasks, whilst keeping everyone happy. Knowing what is happening in the classroom is so important and cannot be underestimated. Ian
Hunt, a former Head, has spoken about the phenomenon of ‘The Disappearing Head’. It is indeed so easy to disappear, to remain in your office and become buried under administrative tasks. To stay relevant, you have to work hard to not allow this to happen.
Whilst some Heads still teach, more and more do not. Currently
I do not teach. It is not that I would not like to, but I know that I would not be able to give it my best due to the other pressures of the job. Teaching does, however, help you to stay relevant and to not forget the grassroots of the profession.
Everyone knows the Head and expects the Head to know them. I agree that should be the case, but it takes precious time to get to know everyone. This can seem like an impossible task - there
is only one of me and hundreds of pupils, parents and staff. Connecting with all stakeholders remains the biggest challenge of the job but the most important.
Staying relevant is about
maintaining a high visibility in school. You must take an interest in everyone, walk around, pop into classrooms, soak up what
is going on, chat to people. Finding out about the smallest
of things can be so important
to an individual. There has been much written on the theme of Transformational Management
by Walking Around as a strategic leadership tool. For me, building strong relationships with pupils, parents and staff is key to being a successful relevant Head. Building trust through developing relationships and having honest conversations face-to-face is crucial. The most important thing is to be yourself and stay true to what you believe, honesty goes a long way.
Staying relevant by establishing yourself as an approachable
Head is key. I believe that leadership is very much down
to understanding people and individual personalities, including your own. Knowing how to adapt your temperament to get the best out of each person within the
teams around you is crucial; it is about emotional intelligence and showing personal sensitivity.
Staying relevant requires strong leadership and the courage
of your own convictions. The support of a strong and loyal senior leadership team is vital. No man is an island and no Head can go it alone. As a Head, it
is important to use your senior team, giving them the support to fly so they can provide you with the support you need to remain informed and knowledgeable about all that is happening within the school community.
Being people centred, having a transparent and open personality, and remaining visible in all ways remains my mantra for successful leadership. I know that as Head,
I will not always get it right,
but I will always strive to do so. The most important thing for
any leader is having the ability
to say sorry and admit if you
got it wrong and having human empathy is the real key to staying relevant.
casualty could send a distress call and be rescued while using the medical supplies provided in the kit.
At the final judging, Georgina and Alice were presented with their prize, a Fii 200 drone, and a trophy.
Burgess Hill Girls Head Liz Laybourn said: ‘To achieve recognition in
an international competition is
an incredible achievement. This competition really captured the girls’ imagination and was a brilliant way to stimulate their interest in STEM subjects and drone technology, which is already having an enormous impact on the world about us.”
When Adrienne Richmond came into headship at The Mount School, York, just over two years ago, she was excited by the challenges of the new role. After 27 years of teaching she was ready to be exactly what the title said, a Head Teacher, a leader of the teaching staff, heading up the school. What has transpired so far is that she is often referred to as the Chief Executive rather than the Head Teacher. Here she discusses how heads can stay relevant to their schools...
  Pupils to the rescue with disaster drone
Drones designed by young scientists from Burgess Hill Girls, Sussex,
saw off stiff competition from all over the world to be judged overall runners-up in an international competition organised by the
British International Education Association and STEM Sussex, which supports and encourages young people to enjoy science, technology, engineering and maths.
The challenge for students was to create an international rescue drone that could respond to a potential disaster situation of their choice.
The Burgess Hill Girls winning team, led by Georgina Wrigg and Alice
Gibson, aged 13, focused on the 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, which claimed 225,000 lives across a dozen countries.
Their drone used thermal, infra- red and photographic cameras to scan the affected area looking for survivors and was able to release a beacon-assisted medical kit via a parachute.
The cameras could link to computers at the operating base to show live action videos of what the cameras were seeing. These, through the computers, could be recorded and pictures taken. The beacon attached to the medical kit meant a potential
  6 Independent Schools Magazine
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