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Work life balance for head teachers

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by littlejackhorner, Jan 14, 2019.

  1. littlejackhorner

    littlejackhorner Senior commenter

    I hope someone could give me some advice about ways of improving work life balance for head teachers.
    I am a school governor and am aware that things are being done to improve well being and work life balance for teachers and support staff. This is a very positive way forward but who ensures that the head teacher is also supported in this? There are so many pressures on schools driven by the accountability agenda. Has anyone any suggestions for how we as governors could support the head teacher?
    I wasn't sure if this was the right forum to post this and will also try governors.
    Any advice would be welcomed.
  2. welshwales

    welshwales Occasional commenter

    I'm really heartened to read this post at a time when I'm considering how long I can continue in the role due to the pressure- how lovely to see a governor express a genuine interest in supporting this aspect of the Headteacher's job.
  3. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter

    Insist they take dedicated headship time once a week - and emphasise you don't care if they spend it going for a walk!
    Make sure there is enough Admin support.
    Make sure they don't have to be on call for at least three weeks of the summer...
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  4. dataholic

    dataholic New commenter

    As both a Head and a governor I agree with Welshwales that it is really heartening to read your post! The best support my governors have given me in this area has been to support decisions to create additional TLR posts to support the SLT, but also in supporting the 'school' in saying no to requests from the LA that would I know aren't doable and would put additional strain on my workload (work helping other schools, taking additional pupils etc).
  5. abacus1982

    abacus1982 Established commenter

    Half-termly coaching sessions outside of school are vital for me. Gives me time to really reflect on what I am doing away from school and get thoughts clear in my mind. I have found them invaluable.
  6. dataholic

    dataholic New commenter

    I totally agree with the coaching idea - I had coaching from an absolutely brilliant former HT who now works for Integrity coaching. Each half term and off-site in a café (i.e. not another school setting). This is what got me through the last two years! I couldn't recommend this enough in terms of HT wellbeing :)
    lsalewski likes this.
  7. FerrisB

    FerrisB New commenter

    I'm one of those individuals who it is hard to help ... sometimes . Dedicated headship time - that's all the time and being out of school can cause me more stress !!!! But being asked if Im ok and is there anything I can do to help ? Finding time to find out what's taking my time / raising stress levels . That goes a million miles into helping me sleep , function and have a good weekend :)
  8. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter

    I agree with the Leadership coaching. Long, long story but I'm having a session every three weeks with someone and it is useful. The coach is an ex-head and essentially we just chat about what has happened since we last met.. the sessions are usually positive and provide some validation at a personal level, that I am not going completely mad.
    At the same time, the coach has enables several people to leave education successfully - so that is always there on the agenda too. What's my Plan B?
    And even thinking that there could be one, is helpful in coping with Plan A.

    The coach is not cheap... but when the agreed number of sessions end, I am going to ask Governors to continue to pay for more... It has actually made a difference between me being signed off and me still being able to work.
  9. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter

    That's true... it can cause more stress....which is why I sometimes I take D. HT and stay at home to do housework... and then I go in for a day at the weekend instead when it is completely quiet and I can clear the stuff that requires careful thought with no interruptions..
    Having said that - I've had only half a day since September.. so not much!!
  10. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    A great attitude. The HT often gets neglected or personal workload increases to enable wellbeing initiatives for team.

    I’d say:

    Dedicated Headship Time- a day a fortnight;
    Coaching / counselling;
    Regular meetings outside of committees to check in- a confidential meeting between HT and one or two trusted governors to know the reality around challenges;
    Quality SBM and admin support- a secretary with good literacy and numeracy skills.

    Governor meetings significantly add to workload.
    Look to how governor reporting uses existing reports as opposed to duplication/ re writing;
    Consider the timings of meetings- starting at 19.00 for a 2.5/3 hour meeting makes for a very long day;
    Consider how HT is treated in meetings;
    Ensure a good Clerk so the HT does not need to edit first draft minutes for accuracy;
    Give access to the document portal for uploading documents so the HT does not need to go via the clerk;
    Ensure governors read documents ahead of meetings and come informed- again avoids duplication.

    Being a HT is the most lonely role and anything to ease this by building trust and supporting feeling valued is key.

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