#TheNewNormalEdBook: A HeadsUp4HTs Event Summary

It was a pleasure to host the first in a series of HeadsUp4HTs events focused around The future of Education: What should Education Be?


James and Kate welcomed the HeadsUp community, alongside Diana Osagie, Arv Kaushal and Dr Emma Kell and held an electric discussion focused around 3 inspirational chapter from Opogo’s EdBook, which focuses on identifying and implementation a new and purposeful way of educating.


Diana empowered us to become Captains in an army of Change. A reminder that we are not defined by our roles as Headteachers, as school leaders. We are more than that. We have the voice, the strength and the power to influence the education system for the better. We will not reduce what we do to a mere title.


‘We hold the door open to the future of the nation’


‘We can’t keep doing the same normal.’


Diana challenged us to think about what changes we would like to see in the system. Thi is what we said:


I would love to see…..schools embracing inclusion in its TRUEST form - embracing difference


I would like to see an Ethical Curriculum that is devoted to development of self, of others and a sustainable way of living


I would love to see….less reliance and strength on the examination process


I want well-being for all of the community the top priority.


Fairer assessment of progress and achievement


A culturally and historically honest and true curriculum.


An emphasis on sustainable relationships


An end to the social mobility narrative in education - how can we empower young people to be the best people they can be, not just make the most money?


I would like schools to be judged against whether they deliver their school motto - every school has a statement of values, but we get judged on data...


I would love to see the role of HT become one that is manageable and realistic. 


I want all teachers entering the profession to lead a values based strategy to learning development.


I need to see that people, families and pupils are not marginalised. I want to see acceptance and a curriculum for all. I want to see consensus and collaboration. 


I would love to see more cognitively diverse recruitment panels - with clearer comments when giving feedback to those that weren't appointed - as opposed to inappropriate an lacking in authenticity feedback


I want to see competition broken down between schools and really see everyone working together to change education of every child for the better - stop referring to 'brave' leadership - it's just doing what is right for our children.  We shouldn't have to be being brave!  We are just doing what we know is the absolute right thing! 


So how are we going to action the above? We will be discussing these points more in our forthcoming meetings and events. But, in the meantime, hold yourselves to account the changes you want to make. What small steps can you achieve in the mean time? How will you start your journey into a new education?


Arv shared a moving experience of belonging. Belonging in the UK, belonging in the school’s education system. His vulnerability and transparency was applauded by the community He asked us, ‘How can we ensure that diversity and inclusion remains high on every agenda?’


Some points from the conversation that followed:


We need to be aware. Hold mirrors up to ourselves and to each other in a compassionate way. Moving from the unconscious to the conscious


How do we move from the current state of education to a path that is more aligned to our values and visions?


A question for everyone - Do you think the feeling of belonging is different when a protected characteristic is not visible? 


Honesty and integrity...comes down to having a long look at self... then re examining . The policy formation needs to be grounded in why...not just how and what.


The How is the greatest challenge I think


How do we get persons not aligned to our way of thinking etc to see a different point of view? The why is clear. But as Arv has said, the diversity of thought etc in the leadership isn't there.


We gotta get started - if not now, then when? Tangible strategies would support next steps.


I believe that a unified and conscious sense of belonging is a start. Getting to that start point is uncomfortable but essential. Needs to be meaningful and authentic


It’s a tough system, so we need to do all we can can to make sure every pupil and every member of staff belongs


We can't carry on like this- change is needed. 


We exist! We have voices. We want to make changes. We are powerful!


The theme that links both speakers is: "If not now, when and if not us, who?"


Dr Emma Kell gave us 5 questions around Wellbeing to think about, following from HeadsUp discussions around sustainable headship, wellbeing and the support (or lack of) available for Headteachers. 


1 - How will you know when your wellbeing is under threat?

2 - Where do you go where you don’t think about work?

3 - What’s your next concrete step in looking after yourself?

4 - Who can help you?

5 - When will you take time for YOU?


Some of our thoughts and comments focused on wellbeing ensued…


The problem we have is that the system is predicated on working way too many hours to achieve "an acceptable standard of education." I resigned at Christmas as a head and my wellbeing is 100% better. I've time for me and my family. It shouldn't have to take me leaving the profession to achieve acceptable personal wellbeing.


My work life balance is fantastic since I left headship


(In response) That's a sad reality for many at the moment Andy.  It has to change


I’ve spent 4yrs dedicated to writing the wellbeing section of the new curriculum


How do we change it? The DfE talk about wellbeing but neither they nor Ofsted understand the concept.


Being part of a Mat unfortunately put more layers on the time constraints and I was less in control of my time, but I still feel guilty spending time on me!


Thank you for highlighting that I have neglected my own wellbeing


Need to remind all of the teachers in my life, especially heads, of their FABULOSITY


I’m thinking about what disseminates from our Trust board and its impact on the leadership in our school.... I want to get brave and assertive on creating that not having it done to my fabulous school


Well being for HTs is absolutely key! It's been difficult for me as a HT this term but I am trying-will walk the school tomorrow pm after my HT time in the morning, at home, reflecting...


Model the values you believe in


We have to make sure our oxygen mask is on first!


If you are working so many hours what are you doing wrong?


Because so much of what we are asked to do, from above, is irrelevant!! but we are held to account on it.


It is also whether you feel you are supported - by your governors, trustees etc.


OFSTED are driving force in grinding school leaders down :(


Then the question continues… accountability for what purpose? To whom? If it doesn't add value to your pupils and community, then why? Who decides?


When did OFSTED and DfE know more than Headteachers at the coal face??


At the moment the frequency of changes in guidance and responses needed for updating risk assessments and covid response...this almost creates a new role within the school dedicated to covid response. The accountability hoops in that we have the additional pressures drives behaviours


At the moment Covid takes over the day and all the rest happens in the evening!


The agenda and responsibility of the GB to monitor headteacher wellbeing often feels artificial and tick box - and therefore not valuable!