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Things you wish you had known as a New Head...

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by y6t, Sep 25, 2019.

  1. y6t

    y6t New commenter

    Hi all,
    I have just secured my first headship, at my current school where I have been Deputy for the last 6 years- so excited, but aware of the challenges ahead! What do you wish you had known as a new head just starting out, that you know now, as an experienced head? One piece of advice you have for a new head? I would particularly be interested to hear from those who have been in similar situations to myself, making the transition from Deputy to Head in the same school.
    Thank you everyone!
  2. thejudgesscoresarein

    thejudgesscoresarein Occasional commenter

    Congratulations on your promotion- you worked for it and I bet you’re over the moon to be reaping the rewards- even though, at times, it might feel tough.
    I was promoted to Headteacher back in 1997 at the school I was the Deputy in and although familiar with the school and the outgoing HT at the time had prepared me for promotion, there was still a lot to learn- and that only came when I was actually in the job itself.
    What advice I can give to you as a new HT is that you’ve got to remember- you’re the leader of the school now, everyone (the staff, pupils and parents) will be looking at you and it’s your actions that will be remembered. If you are a HT that tries to make friends with all the staff, then it simply isn’t going to work.
    Also, go with the mindset that every day is a learning day- I am 58 (nearly 59), I’ve been in this industry now for 37 years- 22 of them as HT, and I’m still learning. Things change, education changes, and whilst the core of your role is still the same, you’ve got to adapt with the times.
    I wish you every success in your new role!
    Jesmond12 likes this.
  3. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    Congratulations on your promotion! I knew a new Head who kept a diary for every day of his first year in the job. Not just what events happened and when (many of which you will know anyway, having been Deputy) but his reflections on them, thoughts about how something might be done differently next year, ideas for something which he would like to introduce, notes to himself about situations he noticed or how things worked around the school etc. I think for him it also charted his journey as a new Head and meant that in his second year he had a firm handle on where he wanted to take things and when things should be done etc. Might be a helpful approach.
    sparklepig2002 likes this.
  4. y6t

    y6t New commenter

    Thank you both for the useful advice and taking the time to respond. I have been doing just that, a book where I write the date at the top and jot down events, musings, ideas and a to do list( which I never get to the end of- think I will get used to that one!) Think you definitely have to be adaptable/flexible but clear and consistent. I have to say I have really enjoyed my first term and the challenges that have come along.
  5. Rachste

    Rachste New commenter

    Congrats on your appointment. I was in a similar position 2 years ago. I found the staff respected me and adjusted well to the change in my position. Hardest part in the first year was the feeling that a tsunami was engulfing me - so much to take on board and learn - finance, complaints, parents, capability of staff, staff absence, health and safety, SEN, ultimate accountability for challenging behaviour, results etc... The list is endless and as the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know. Be easy on yourself, ask as many questions as you can and find a safe group to offload to - I have a closed Twitter group of heads who support each other. I love the job but wow - what a learning curve! Good luck and don’t take it all too seriously!
  6. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    Making the right relationships with colleague Heads who, in the right networks can provide a font of knowledge and a wealth of support, is very important. Working out who are the really supportive colleagues can be key. Work together when you can - the job can b a lonely one
  7. abacus1982

    abacus1982 Established commenter

    Big things for me:

    1) There's loads you'll now be in charge of you know nothing about! HR, finance, GDPR, health and safety etc - Don't try and work out the answers when you have an issue - pick up the phone and ask for advice
    2) Follow the policy! Especially for things like complaints
    3) Build up a good network of local HTs - keep in touch, meet for a coffee etc
    4) Big mistake I made was trying to keep hold of all the jobs I loved as a DHT. With all the additional stuff like in point 1 it was unmanageable - delegate if you have the people around you with capability to do it

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