Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.
I went to visit an ‘outstanding’ primary school today. The head there is also my Headstart mentor, so a chance to catch up and ask the questions that I have been compiling since our last visit!
Walking around his school allowed me to see all the possibilities. It also gave me a different perspective on use of space, resources, etc, etc. So many things to think about! He truly has transformed his school and demonstrates outstanding leadership.
I am surprised at how many heads try to do the job alone. I have known heads to really ‘close the door,’ so to speak, on outside help altogether. It is almost as if it is showing weakness to pick up the phone and ask a question to someone outside of their school. I don’t know how they do it! I have found so much support in doing just that and calling other headteachers, both in my partnership and further afield. One of my previous heads even booked in a meeting for my September start, when I first got the job! Support such as this has been invaluable. I joked with one of the partnership heads that she would have to start charging me by the hour because of the amount of questions I have thrown at her! They have not only been extremely helpful, but more than willing to offer advice and their time.
Why is it that some leaders do not form stronger partnerships with other leaders in local schools? It seems that there is competition, especially within partnerships, when really we should all be working together to ensure better outcomes for all the children in our community. Not only is the support of well-versed and long standing heads greatly appreciated, but also the support that new heads can give each other. I have now linked with a group of new headteachers from our county. We will meet three times over the year and discuss issues that we feel are relevant for us in our schools and matters related to our first years of headship. We are able to share experiences and discuss issues that have arisen in our school and how we have responded, among many other issues that affect us all in our schools.
Support for and from one another seems paramount in ensuring that we have people whom we can discuss pertinent issues away from our context, in a safe, confidential space. For me, it has been necessary to confirm my own judgements, to seek clarification or further information and often just to retain my sanity! It can be very comforting to find out that there are other people out there experiencing exactly the same things I am.
I will continue to seek ways to partner with other schools, to support and to receive support as well as to share outstanding practice.
How can partnerships help to develop your school?
What ways can we work with one another to achieve an outstanding education for all of our pupils?