leadership, NPQSL

Early lessons

Labelled for reuse under CC licence


This time last week, I was getting myself ready for my first “proper” day as Deputy Head.  I’ve worked in my school since 2000, when I started as an NQT.  In 2009, I took some time out to have my first child, and again in 2013,  but since then, I realised that I was ready to move into Leadership.  I had been looking around for a vacancy, but just couldn’t find the school to move to.  I was over the moon when the opportunity to become Acting Deputy Head in my own school: new opportunities and responsibilities but without having to find my feet and carve a niche in the school.  However, staying in my school is not without its own difficulties.  These are the lessons I have learned in just one week:


Coming out of the classroom is strange

I’m still teaching 2 days a week, but this means that I’m no longer the main class teacher.  Taking a back seat, not having PPA with the team and letting go of the planning and day to day running of the year group takes a real effort.  I’m a natural control freak and letting go of the reins is hard!

There’s a lot of walking involved

Just getting part way down the to do list involves talking to lots of different people in various parts of the school.  It’s not a massive school, but my step count must have been huge on Friday. Stupidly, I wore some glamorous heels as I wasn’t in the classroom.  The green shoes will not be making another appearance in school!

The already full email inbox suddenly becomes even fuller

Everyone copies you in on everything.  Those emails that people aren’t sure who to send them to come your way.   Many don’t involve any action, lots do.  But they all need reading.  And deleting.

You find yourself with things to do that you don’t remember saying you will do

Reading minutes of meetings is vital – my name appeared a few times against actions I don’t remember signing up to.  Nevertheless, they got done!

Things can’t always be done straight away

Many of the jobs on the list involve talking to others (hence the aching feet), but of course, most of the time, they are teaching.  I’m not going to be someone who wanders in to ask random questions during lessons, but it is infuriating when you reach a point where you can’t get on with anything.  I guess that’s a perfect time for a walkabout.

Being visible takes some getting used to

I desperately want to be a visible part of the Key Stage – I want to know what is going on in the classrooms, to see the children’s work and for them to come to me to show me things they are proud of (I have a stash of special personalised smelly stickers waiting!).  I want to wander round the playground and chat to children and know the names of those I don’t teach.  But wandering into classrooms is hard – being on the receiving end, I know I have wondered whether I was being checked up on or if it was just a friendly visit. I don’t want anyone to feel that way – I want them to know that the random visits are friendly.

There is a fine line…

…between being visible and “swanning around”.  I know that staff in my school appreciate a visible presence, but  I would hate to think that anyone thought I was strutting around the school because of my new role.  I suppose this is the time when a clean break would have been easier – I would be there as Deputy Head and nothing else.  However, I know the kind of leader I want to be: hands on, involved and accessible, and so it will take time to become this.

I think I’m going to like it

One week in, early days, but so far, life is good.


2 thoughts on “Early lessons

  1. You are more than welcome to pop into my classroom (J6) any time, and I will send some good work your way when I can. I don’t think anybody would think those things of you!


  2. Good to read this, Hayley! I agree that sometimes stepping up to senior leadership, perhaps particularly if it’s an internal appointment, is often about deciding what NOT to do, as well as what to do.

    It’s good that you’re sensitive to the feelings of others, for example about how they might feel when you call into classrooms, but in my opinion just communicating honestly about this and talking about how it’s all about you learning about the learning, and how best you can support that, should help.

    And re: email traffic – if the school doesn’t have one, it might be worth talking about an email protocol to avoid the default copying in people who perhaps don’t need to be in the loop. Something to talk about, maybe?

    Hope you continue to enjoy the journey!

    Best wishes


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