A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor
A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor

A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor

A-Calm-SeaTo paraphrase steal John Tomsett’s opening blog line – have been a VP for just 3 terms and, at the age of 39, what I know about school leadership… is less than I have to learn about school leadership.

Every leadership role is a unique combination of you, the job role, the school and it’s context, the leadership team around, and finally the contribution of politics and national policy. (There it is, a political reference point and acknowledgement that the decisions I make from here on in will be framed by national policy.) Each variable making a significant contribution to my first three terms experience at The Wellington Academy.

Having joined Hamble Community Sports College to rebuild a battered and bruised ICT Department, and having an enthusiasm for the challenge at The Wellington Academy, it was relatively easy to redefine adversity as opportunity and challenge. I fear I under estimated the size of the challenge and relied too heavily on accountability as a solution. I have learnt that it is unfair to associate accountability without consultation, pinned upon prospective planning, regardless how well intended. Add to this leadership mix, decision making matrix, the need for relative “capacity” measured against the challenge.

Since my appointment in January, I have read the applications of short listed candidates, and re-read my own application, twice. What I learnt is, that even thorough investigation of the schools Ofsted report, website and dashboard does not provide you with the information you need for a) the interview process and b) the role you hope to fulfill. I know that any future applications will be proceeded by a thorough reconnaissance and a thorough hand over period. I have added to my summer todo list, a review of the staff handbook and induction programme, staff list with photographs, job roles, responsibilities and compensation? An expectation of Performance Related Pay?

As far as the influence of the leadership team is concerned, this is not a simple answer; parachuted staff, consultants, secondment, promotions, promoted positions, early morning briefings, late meetings and the occasional cancellation. With the appointment of a new VPs in May and another from September, I will come back to this question when the comparison, from my perspective, has greater clarity.

As for the contribution of politics and national policy, reading the reviewing national policy is a daily activity made easier with http://schoolsimprovement.net/feed/ and weekly #SLTchat conversations on Sunday evenings.

Three terms in and what I know about school leadership… is less than I have to learn about school leadership. That said, the professional development I am immersed in at The Wellington Academy is intense.

Calm seas does not make a skilled sailor.

Career firsts

The new role has also led to a few career first, introducing staff briefing (highlighting the need to know names and faces), preparing and leading INSET, i/c of the school for an afternoon, for a day, fire drill, whole school policy documents (homework, assessment and reporting), an over-night stay in boarding, sole responsibility for a teacher interview and appointment, sole responsibility for a Governors Committee meeting, signing accounts, financial accounts meeting, contract re-negotiation, responsibility for exams, Y11 Final Assembly.


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