Having sat in a number of Headteacher meetings it was obvious that we were all suffering from accountability fatigue and that this was leading to a loss of confidence and enthusiasm for the job that we do. There has been an element of fear that has tended to paralyse our innovative thinking mechanism as the new accountability measures seem to undermine the progress that our students make. Some Headteachers are spending more time dealing with a raft of visitors from a variety of accountability checkers that it is actually distracting them from the most important job of improving pupil progress.
Two specific things prompted our “Brave Heads” conference that was initially billed as “leading a school in times of changing examination performance”. The first was a request by two Secondary headteachers for an injection of some energy and enthusiasm. The second was a Primary Headteacher enthusing me by urging me to be fearless! He reminded me that this is how I had always been and that it was this approach through difficult times that had enabled both the schools that I have led to successful sometimes against the odds. This first Headteacher conference was for Secondary Heads. We began by sharing things that no one knew about us which had us laughing irreverently. We went on to talk about the things that keep us awake at night and how we manage ourselves. We focussed on how to be brave, why we should be brave and generally enjoyed the camaraderie of sharing our ideas and passion for education. The next session was led by James Saunders who took us on a journey of leadership and challenged us to think about where we are on our own journey of leadership.
Finally, Gavin Byford focussed us on a very practical issue of curriculum planning for student progress and accountability. This discussion led to a pledge that Gavin would organise for curriculum planners from the schools represented to get together to share ideas.
My thanks go to all those Headteachers who gave up their time to engage in a mutually supportive and enjoyable session and thanks to my colleagues at TTC who led the sessions.