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Blog Archives

It shouldn’t just be pupils that learn, teachers should be involved in continuous learning

Kate Brown 23rd January 2020

Shelley McLaren has been teaching for 11 years, 8 of which have been at Craigroyston Community High School in Edinburgh and for the past 18 months has been Headteacher at Craigroyston Community High School.

Shelley decided to take the Into Headship programme when she was depute headteacher, as she was keen to be a headteacher within 2-3 years. However, weeks into the course an opportunity came up to become headteacher at her current school.

“Although I had been at the school for 8 years, I don’t think I would have even been considered for the role of headteacher if I hadn’t been on the course. Doing the Into Headship programme has been the best decision I have made and the best experience I have had! Through attending the programme, I have met so many headteachers and aspiring headteachers and together we are open and honest with each other, we all share advice.”

“The responsibility of being headteacher is huge, as you have so many aspects to managing a school, but the course gave me so much confidence to do my job and helped me to grow my relationships within the school.” “It was really important to me to continue my learning – it shouldn’t just be pupils and students within schools that learn, teachers should also engage and be involved in continuous learning, and this course allowed me to do just that.”

“Just go for it! It is a very challenging course academically and you do need to be committed but what you get out of it is so worth it! The tutors were outstanding with real relevant and recent experience of having worked in a school environment. I learnt so much and created new ideas that I was then able to put into practice back at school. Having the mix of professional and academic reading to support the work was invaluable”

I could visibly see the improvement within the school

Kate Brown 23rd January 2020

Kirsty has been teaching for 15 years and is currently headteacher at Kirkhill Primary School and Dechmont Infant School, West Lothian.

After spending a number of years as a depute and being encouraged by line managers and managers, Kirsty started the Into Headship programme, which soon led to her becoming an acting headteacher and more recently a permanent headteacher. The programme benefited Kirsty in so many ways, namely that soon after starting on the course she became an acting headteacher, but it was the self-belief that the course instilled in Kirsty that brought to life the true benefits of the programme.

“The programme supported my self-confidence in knowledge and understanding. Whilst working through the strategic change initiative I could visibly see the improvement within the school.”

The support Kirsty received from her fellow peers was one of the main benefits of doing the course.

“ The course allowed me to build a group of contacts, as its important to have support and friendship throughout your leadership roles, and by doing the course I was able to build up my network of people who I am now able to seek support and advice from”.

Being a headteacher has to be one of the most challenging but rewarding jobs

Kate Brown 23rd January 2020

Alison Pears has been teaching for 15 years and is currently headteacher at Blairdardie Primary School, Glasgow

Alison started the Into Headship programme in September 2019 and is only half-way through the course but already has gained so much.

“As a new headteacher, I felt it would be advantageous to further develop my leadership skills. I have only been a permanent headteacher for a year but having the opportunity to work with other headteachers and to share ideas and strategies has been so valuable.”

“I found I have learnt so much on the course already, mainly from the excellent keynote speakers and lecturers, but also by spending time engaging in professional reading, professional dialogue and critical reflection.”

“Being a headteacher has to be one of the most challenging jobs, but also one the most rewarding, as every single day you will make a difference and this course gives you some of the key skills to do the job!”

Having a network of other headteacher collagues to chat with has been inspirational

Kate Brown 23rd January 2020
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Laura MacKay has been teaching for just over 8 years, and for the past 2 years has been headteacher at Banff Primary School. Before teaching, Laura worked in the hospitality industry but was keen to move into the teaching profession as it’s a passion she has always had.
Laura decided to take the Into Headship course when she was a principal teacher at a previous school and was keen to explore how her wide range of skills could be transferred into a leadership role.

“The Into Headship course has been exceptionally valuable. I discovered that my leadership skills could be extended. One of the positive outcomes of undertaking the course was the impact on building the capacity of my team. I also liked the opportunity to balance work with further learning.”
There are so many unseen aspects of being a headteacher and having a peer group to share concerns, thoughts and ideas with was one of the main advantages of doing the course.
“It can be a lonely job being a headteacher, so having a network of other headteacher colleagues to chat to and to share best practice with, has been really useful. Having open and honest dialogue with them and recognising each other’s strengths has been beneficial. The programme allows you to develop a knowledge of theory and then put it into practice. Being more aware of theory and current research helps you meet the social needs of the children.”

Laura’s advice to any aspiring headteacher looking to apply for the course:
“I would definitely encourage anyone thinking of becoming a headteacher to do the programme. There is more to being a headteacher than the day to day routine. The course helped to refresh my vision for the school and reaffirmed my reason for becoming a headteacher.”

How the Into Headship programme re-ignited my passion and drive

Kate Brown 23rd January 2020
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Anita Buchan has been teaching for 15 years and depute headteacher for four years. She was considering her long-term future, when she applied for the Into Headship programme. She is now headteacher at Burnhaven School. “Challenging, positive and valuable” are just some of the words that Anita describes the Into Headship programme. Anita had been in the position of depute headteacher for around 4 years, when she decided to apply for the Into Headship programme, as it just felt like a natural next step for her. Since completing the programme, she has found she is able to appreciate the role of a headteacher so much better.

“The course was excellent in preparing me for the role of headteacher – and although it was challenging at times, it truly re-ignited my passion and drive to explore the best standard for leadership and management. The programme taught me how to lead and manage staff in a much clearer way. Through a more strategic approach, I can now implement change in a positive and reflective way. It’s easier to look at the children but not so easy to look at ourselves. Teachers obtaining this qualification will develop a deeper understanding of this. “

Since completing the Into Headship qualification, Anita has met many fellow teachers across the country and feels much more positive about exploring new opportunities to learn more about teaching and leadership.
“This course has opened up a huge network of colleagues across Scotland for me to share learning and thinking with and to have a friendly and open debate alongside.”

Anita’s advice to any teachers looking to apply for a headteacher post:
“It’s a fantastic course and I would highly recommend it to any future headteachers. You get to meet others at the same stage in their career and it’s so good to talk to other aspiring headteachers who are in a parallel position – it makes you realise you’re not alone!”

I built a team who complimented my strengths and supported my areas of development

Kate Brown 23rd January 2020
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Noreen Black has been working as a teacher for the past 26 years. She decided to do the Into Headship programme after she spent time working as a depute head and wanted to develop her leadership skills further. She is now headteacher at Cathkin Primary School and Nursery in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire.

“The course has allowed me to extend my knowledge of leadership and management and allowed me time to participate in coaching, providing opportunities for me to self-reflect and examine my skills and qualities as a leader. Applying the knowledge gained through personal and professional research as well as practical experience helped to enhance my skills as a leader and to understand the role of a leader within a school. Throughout the course Noreen regularly evaluated her teaching practice, as one of the key areas of the course is to focus on critical self-assessment.

Being able to identify my areas of strength and the areas that I needed to develop enabled me to ensure that I built a team of staff who complimented my strengths and supported my areas of development. Together our staff team have the capacity to improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools together.”

“The main gains from this course were obtaining the Standard for Headship through both a research and practical based route and being supported via a coaching approach.”

Noreen’s advice for a teacher aspiring to become a headteacher:

“Knowing yourself and knowing how to build a team of staff who can work collectively together towards a common goal was fundamental, as after all improving teaching and learning and developing outcomes for all learners is our common goal.”

Everything we do as teachers and leaders should improve the outcomes for young people.

Kate Brown 23rd January 2020
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Donald Shaw has been working as a teacher for 26 years. When he became depute head teacher, he decided to apply for the Into Headship course. Shortly after embarking on the course, he was appointed headteacher.

“The amazing thing about the course is that it has exactly the right balance of theory and practice. You have taught days at University where you have readings to do and pieces of work to prepare – but then you get to identify and study some form of change within your own setting, which makes the learning real.”
Like so many others who have undertaken the course, confidence is one of the many learnings that the program gives aspiring headteachers.
It’s the thinking time that this course gives you that is one of the major benefits. You learn to be a better leader. There is no doubt that everyone involved in the course notes an increase in confidence which, in turn, helps their leadership.”

“One of the most impactful things I learned was regarding the headteacher’s responsibility to build capacity in others. The biggest gain for me was the ability to rationalise decisions in-school using the learning from the course. Instead of just saying, ‘I’ve got a great idea, let’s do it’ to the staff, I can now say ‘I’ve researched this topic and here is the evidence that makes me think this is a great idea – let’s work on it together.
It’s also so inspiring that everyone on the course is there for one thing – to improve outcomes for young people – everything we do as teachers and leaders should have that goal in mind. “

Donald’s advice for a teacher looking to become a head teacher:
“I would say you just have to go for it, you won’t regret it.”

How the ‘Into Headship programme’ gave me the confidence to step up the career ladder

Kate Brown 23rd January 2020

Anne Anderson qualified as a teacher in June 1999. Looking to progress her career, Anne decided to apply for the programme as it seemed the right time both professionally and personally.
“I decided to do the course because I had been a depute headteacher in two schools for several years. I had been a principal teacher for 6 years and depute headteacher for 8 years. I had my family and decided that it was time to start thinking about the next step. The course seemed like the right opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone, see if I had the potential to take on a Headteacher’s role.”

“The opportunity to leave your school once a month and have the space and time for reflection and to engage in professional dialogue with others who are facing the same challenge as yourself is so valuable.”

For Anne completing Into Headship gave her the confidence to take the much-needed leap up her career ladder and also encouraged and spurred her on to continue on her learning journey.

“The most inspiring part about this course is to have the confidence to apply for a job. It’s also been incredible being able to take on the job of a headteacher and work with the pupils, parents and staff in my school. I am currently undertaking the programme which follows on from Into Headship – In Headship. Completing a further module called Coaching and Mentoring will give me enough credits to gain a Masters level qualification.”

“Don’t wait until you think you are ready to go for it because you will never be fully ready! Engage in academic study, make links with others out of your school and local authority and keep a journal to chart your progress. And always try to challenge your assumptions!”

Why I applied for the role

Kate Brown 10th December 2019
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“I was initially attracted to a career in teaching due to the love of my degree subject, History. Being a Headteacher was never my end goal.

“I was encouraged to apply for the Depute position due to my strong background in and commitment to learning and teaching. It took me a while to adjust to how different a Depute’s role is, however, once I had settled into the post I was able to start evaluating what the school needed.

“It’s clichéd but true, you really are in the position to make a difference, so it’s important to allow staff creativity in the curriculum and to try new things. Don’t get stuck behind your desk: build relationships with the pupils just as you did when you were a class teacher.

“Don’t apply to be a Headteacher for the status, your ego or the salary – you must do it for the right reasons. Your educational and personal values must be at the core of your decision to be a Headteacher.

“If you think, and trusted friends and colleagues agree, that you have what it takes to do the job, take a deep breath and dive in!”

Overcoming the challenges of being a headteacher

Kate Brown 10th December 2019
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“I was attracted to a career in teaching because I wanted to make a difference to the lives of young people and contribute towards their future. During my school career, I observed (as a pupil and a teacher), that Headteachers can make an immense impact on the culture, ethos and success of a school and as a result, changing the lives of the pupils within it.

“The job is not without challenges: the role involves elements I did not expect such as health and safety, facilities and personnel. The most significant learning was how to balance different priorities to support the ‘bigger picture’, and to consider the strategic priorities of the school at every level of the job. As a result, I developed a new school mission and vision.

“My advice to any teacher considering the next steps into senior management would be to take the chance and not to wait until you ‘feel ready’, as the reality is everything is a learning journey and there will always be further improvement to be made.”

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