After 12 years as a head teacher, I took a few minutes to consider some of the the most significant realisations and drivers that I'd learned from my experiences. It's amazing how simple this can be when you have the time and head space to reflect. Everything that I have learned can seemingly be condensed and presented in a few humble words. It's not quite so easy to gain clarity when you're immersed in dealing with the everyday challenges that headship can bring. For this reason, I hope that this letter can resonate with the reader, providing an opportunity to make a little sense of what this amazing job is all about.
I know that you will be doing your best to enjoy the freedom, the sunshine and the company of your family, despite the fact that there is an elephant in every room. It's perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed, and so that will be why you are avoiding thinking about school sometimes. This will never really change from now on, but you will get better at managing your thoughts.
Please remember that you got this job because of what you have done. Others have high regard not only for your achievements, but for who you are. You know that you're not perfect, but this will be a powerful driver. Remember to revisit and stay true to the things that have placed you in this leadership chair in the first place.
Make strategic decisions based on sound knowledge. Let your ideas percolate. discuss them with others and then present and articulate them with logic. Spot the quick fixes and gains, but avoid unnecessary change. People don't always find change easy. You will learn this, so read up on it now beforehand. This will often be the subject of the negative bias that you will have to process on your drive home, that can manifest and distort if not skilfully managed. Stay creative with your plans and ideas. Comply with the rules and understand what the DFE and Ofsted expect, before making this fit for you and your team. Try not to do this the other way around despite the noise.
Your relationships with your colleagues cannot be undervalued. Stay true to these people and you will be well supported. When you make decisions, share your rationale and bring others alongside with you on the journey. For the few that may not be convinced, understand their position and listen to what they say.
The same can be said for your families. Be there with them as much as you can. Crane your neck when necessary to say 'good morning' to the reluctant ones. Respectfully laugh and joke with them. Enjoy their company and you will find yourself motivated by the privilege of being able to help them with their loved ones.
Let love guide you. This is a word that is not just for Valentines day. It will empower you when you think about the children in your care. Know every child's name and always use it with regard and respect.
But please never say 'We're doing it for the children' because it can sound like a strategic, passive-aggressive disclaimer that's hard to argue with. Instead, let it be explicit in absolutely everything that you do.
Headship is all about opportunity. Every relationship, every challenge, every lesson, every decision, every day. Be kind to yourself, stay well and be the headteacher that you want to be.
And finally, never let anyone say that it can't be done.
Kind regards and good luck,
Remember to look up the word 'humility' from time to time, to remind yourself that it's not all about you. Despite being the 'boss', you work for the council just like everyone else.