The important ‘stuff’ when leading a school!

Mr Wynne Principal's blog

Welcome to my first blog for Holyhead Primary Academy.  Within my blog you will find my thoughts on education, experiences so far and hopefully see how passionate I am about improving the lives of children.

I’ve worked in education for nearly 15 years and over this time I’ve led in several schools all the way from Special Measures to Outstanding – both come with their individual challenges.  I am fortunate enough to say I have also experienced being a leader through this change and actually helped transform a school from Special Measures to Outstanding. The road to improvement is a difficult one, and one we are on at the moment, however it is also one of the most rewarding journeys to take. But what is the important ‘stuff’ that makes the difference – you know, that cream in the middle of an Oreo?

The most important thing about school is the children!  As crazy as it sounds sometimes schools don’t always put the children first or have them at the forefront of their minds when making decisions.  Leading a school comes with many challenges and sometimes those challenges can try to pull you away from the main reason the school is there in the first place.  It takes a strong person to say no when others are saying yes, but if it’s right for the children then you must stick to your values and not be tempted to deviate.

It sounds obvious, I know, but with schools being under so much scrutiny these days the obvious can easily become forgotten; you’d be surprised how many schools can over-complicate things and accidently lose the main reason we all became teachers in the first place.  A headteacher I used to work with used the phrase ‘busy fools’ and I vowed when I was in the position of leading a school it would be a busy and innovative hive, but for the right reasons – working in the right direction.

Sometimes when people become a Principal they can unintentionally detach themselves from the community and don’t take the time to do what some may say is ‘not important’.  Greeting the children and parents every morning is one of the things some Principals might say they don’t have the ‘time’ to do, but I try to speak to as many families as I can because I want them to understand I am always there to support them and their children.

I love how children have the ability to be frank and honest; if they don’t like something they are not afraid to say it, which is something that adults aren’t often brave enough to do.  Some schools would want to silence this but I encourage it. Children should be able to have a ‘strong voice’ but at the same time should also be taught how to use it in a proactive way. When I say this I don’t just mean a ‘pupil voice’ conducted once every half term – I mean listening to them every single day.  These are the children who we will need to lead the next generation so we should help them hone these skills as opposed to putting them ‘into a box’ or sticking my head in the sand, thinking I know them better than they know themselves.

Teaching is like magic – not the Harry Potter kind but the kind where no matter how you feel the children can always put a smile on your face in the blink of an eye. That moment when a child understands something for the first time (the light bulb moment), that week when you sat with a child at lunch time because they were sad and they thanked you for listening, or the time you saw the new child make their first friend – they are what it’s all about! This is the most important ‘stuff’ – not monitoring for the sake of it, or putting unrealistic pressure on teachers so they don’t have the time to help create these moments.

It would be naive to say teaching is easy; there are many difficulties to face in this profession. However, working for a Trust that puts families (including the staff) first makes for an exciting and fun journey. What other job lets you create magic all day?  Seeing the children succeed becomes addictive and once you get a taste for it you never want to stop!