Developing leadership skills in a large community school

Developing leadership skills in a large community school

North of England

The school is a thriving 11-16 Academy which sits at the heart of its community. “As an Academy we value our students, staff and community, celebrate diversity and promote inclusion. Our mission is to ensure that all students, no matter what their background or circumstance, gain the skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications they need to lead happy and successful lives. Our student-centred approach ensures all students can thrive within a safe, enjoyable and aspirational environment.”

The opportunity

Bright Field had worked previously with the Head Teacher, the SLT and governors and had provided coaching for the inexperienced Head of English to successfully grow in confidence and meet her challenges head-on.

I walked out of that meeting a different person! I learned so much about myself and my team in that first meeting and suddenly everything was making sense.

The Brief:

A new centre for children with ASD and similar difficulties was created at the school. A new member of staff – we’ll call her Dianne – had been recruited to lead the team, most of whom had been TAs at the school with no previous experience of children with ASD or their specific needs. Dianne had previously started and run outstanding provision in a different school and encountered here a resistance to new methods of working with the children and colleagues. What was needed appeared to the staff to be counter-intuitive to all they had learnt before and differed from current practice at the school in terms of behaviour management for children in need of support. Dianne was struggling to share her vision and expertise and the team members continued to operate as they had always done. There was little collaboration or co-operation and the relationship between Dianne and her colleagues was difficult. This was compounded by some personal issues for Dianne which had an impact on her ability to lead effectively.

“I had previously worked in a team where we were all pulling in the same direction, all committed, all had in depth and sound knowledge of specialist provision and ASD and I had developed a leadership style that really didn’t work for me in my new job. I couldn’t understand why the team didn’t ‘get me’ or ‘get it’ and the challenge became so great I almost gave up and was ready to hand in my notice.”

Bright Field was asked to support Dianne in March of her first year at the school.

The Solution

  • 2 days: one working one-to-one with Dianne, one working in a workshop with the whole team.
  • 8 x 1 hour one-to-one telephone coaching
  • 11 x Insights Discovery Adult Profiles

Bright Field put into place a programme, co-designed with Dianne, of support, mentoring and team development which she then delivered herself. One-to-one support for Dianne during this phase was essential in order to enable her to establish herself as a more effective leader. Dianne’s colleagues were not yet a team – any team building or development at this stage would have had little or no effect. She was supported by a dedicated coach/mentor who met the team briefly at the start of the programme and then again at the end. “Then I had my first meeting with Hilary and found her incredibly easy to talk to. I walked out of that meeting a different person! I learned so much about myself and my team in that first meeting and suddenly everything was making sense.”

Dianne was helped to devise ways in which she could hold her team accountable whilst at the same time strengthening and improving their working relationship. She was able to put into place operational changes and strategies which enabled the team to work smarter, more collaboratively and with the children’s needs at the heart of what they were doing. The positive impact on the children was almost instantaneous.

“I worked through a structured programme with Hilary, which involved more meetings, planning, telephone coaching, a team building day that Hilary ran and lots and lots of leadership coaching. I put in systems and processes to support the team under Hilary’s watchful eye.”

The school year ended with a team workshop. Everyone on the team completed an Insights Discovery online evaluator and the data was fed back at the workshop. The team was led through a series of activities which enabled them to think more deeply about what they needed to do differently in order to become a higher performing team and how their combined personality styles had an impact on the way they worked. They produced a clear set of actions to carry forward into the following academic year.

“It wasn’t easy if I am honest and I had to have some challenging meetings and deliver some difficult messages but with Hilary’s support and guidance, it has all paid off. I am now proud to be leading an effective and high performing team until very recently… I have just been promoted and I am now leading another team as well as my previous team and believe me, I haven’t made the same mistakes again. Thank you Hilary, for everything!”

Mentoring that is transforming women’s leadership

Thought provoking and based on a wealth of personal experience. Great insights on raising our sights for professional development in the world of education.

David Laws, Schools Minister 2012-2015
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