Leadership Pathways is a programme run by the National College that aims to develop the skills needed for school leadership. I am not going to comment on the programme itself, but am going to reflect upon the main lessons I have learned about leading a whole school change.
Firstly, the change aimed to create co-constructed off-timetable enquiry days. We wanted staff and pupils to learn together without the barriers normally associated with the curriculum. There are spin offs from the change, but this isn’t the appropriate place to announce them
This wordle.net cloud summarises my learning.
The diagram shows that people, learning, stakeholders and vision are at the heart of any whole school change.
My own learning can be summarised with two cartoons and two images. I have used these before, and I have tried to note the original source.
The first learning point is that most conversations need to be planned and that when events don’t follow their planned trajectory, it’s important to adapt quickly. There were a couple of instances where last minute changes had to be made. the balance between coaching and mentoring was important in such times – knowing that some people want to be coached into making decisions while others just need and want leading. Knowing the strengths of each team member is vital, as is ensuring that roles are clearly set out.
Most people in education are aware that we need to have a vision. I’m uncomfortable with the terminology but agree that having a clear goal is essential. However, what is more important is sharing some ideas of how to get there. There is also a clear need to be able to measure the impact of any changes which usually requires some form of baseline picture.
I really like this cartoon from gapingvoid. Co-construction and having no guidelines is scary. It was interesting to find out that when given no rules at all, both the students and staff I worked with started off by being ultra conservative. Any change needs careful support. A fantastic outcome of the change was the fantastic professional development that the staff involved with it experienced.
Finally, although I’ve always been aware of the need to prioritise, this project really tested the balance between driving up standards and innovation within a curriculum area and whole school innovation.