I have had a fantastic first half term as principal with the opportunity to shape and define the future for my school. It was always going to be a challenge, arriving half way through a term, where routines had been established, priorities shared and expectations in place.
There are, however, a significant number of issues that I have been able to already establish as a focus for my work and the direction of the school. There had been a break in the presence of a full-time substantive principal at the school for well over a year. With the previous principal not having been in school for a lengthy period of time, there has been difficult challenges for the school to face. A leadership team that was not complete and had also been faced with other long term absences meant that capacity was seriously stretched and clarity of direction had been difficult to communicate and embed.
I was really grateful for the welcome I received from my new colleagues, but had little time to establish new procedures before OFSTED arrived (read here) and then started to really be able to collect in my own evidence about the circumstances of the school and how we needed to move on. I moved my office to the heart of the school and made some other minor adjustments which were quick fixes but also were greeted positively by students and staff. The leadership team did need some restructuring as in the pressure of the previous twelve months the team had taken a collective role in leading the school, but with us now back at full capacity, we needed to have clear accountability and leadership. Clear agendas and communication were essential to re-establish an open approach to leadership as also was my decision to hold on to the development groups established by the senior team at the end of the previous academic year in order to demonstrate my confidence in them to all staff.
Ending the term with a celebration of students’ achievements, a musical concert and a warm atmosphere at the staff gathering on the Friday has left me with a glow.
I have tried to stick to the principles I outlined in “Moving On” and although I have a lot to do over the next week before we start the new term, I have some satisfaction in being able to stick to my principles. This has been such a refreshing change after what has been at times in my past a rather frustrating existence as a senior leader with a lot of the accountability but not control of the direction.
I asked a number of middle leaders to take responsibility for key areas of the college’s work and this has also helped to bring consistency to the college. Another challenge has also been to redraw the areas of responsibility for the governing body so that communication and accountability were also more clear. There will be lots more to achieve next term and there are still some problems where I am looking at a number of potential solutions, but nevertheless I am looking forward to it.
I would have liked to have changed a small number of ways that I have approached challenges this term. I think there was room for more significant culture shifts in some areas, but also a need to lay more ground work before doing others. However, I am learning and changing my practice as I go.
Roll on next term.