Good Schools Are Led by Good People

Last week I was appointed as Deputy Head at Framwellgate School Durham, a place very close to my heart as this was where I started my career almost 20 years ago. FRAM as it is affectionately known, is a very special place. Everything about it exudes a warmth and happiness; the students and staff are great and although it may have lost its way a little in the last few years, I truly believe it has all of the necessary conditions to be great again. I also hope that I can play a key part in getting it there as our students and staff totally deserve it.

So why am I writing this blog when I haven’t written in ages? Well I guess the whole two day interview process has made me reflect on who I am as a leader and person and has made me ask many questions about myself in the process, as well as reflecting on what makes a great school. So the purpose of this blog is twofold. First of all just to share a few brief thoughts about good schools being led by good people and secondly as a thank you to all of the people who have been instrumental in helping me believe in myself.

It seems absolute common sense to me that if you treat people with basic common decency, listen to them, value them, encourage and praise them then you’ll get the best out of them. Maya Angelou’s quote ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’ is at the core of my values. Sadly though this isn’t true for some schools. Weak, narcissistic leaders seem to be all too common and I cannot think for the life of me why such a so called leader would think that creating a culture of fear, favouritism and froth would be the way to encourage staff to work together for a common purpose. I know of good schools that were in the process of becoming great and sadly have been ruined because of the egotistical vanity of such leaders. Note to self- make sure any school I work in never operates in this way.

Having spent time at Nou Camp in Barcelona in the summer and read about their youth camp’s (La Masai) ethos I know that this is instrumental in education. They promote the values of discipline, manners and respect and believe that by developing the individual as a person, then the academic success will naturally follow. Not only do we strive to develop these values in our students, but we also need to remember them as leaders to ensure our schools can become great.

Finally I’d just like to say thank you to everyone for your support. First of all the staff at FRAM. You are all absolutely fantastic and I know just like me, want the very best for our students. Thank you for all of your kind words over the last few days; you have no idea what they mean to me. The SLT at FRAM who have supported everything I’ve implemented over the last year. To Andy Byers, our new Head who has made a really positive start and has offered many words of kindness and wisdom. I can’t wait to work alongside you! And last but not least, my lovely husband who made sure I ate and slept while preparing for this interview.

Ps- today I received an email from someone I cried on at the most inappropriate of times. His response to my apology for this was ‘Everyone great I have worked with has been a sobbing mess at some stage- It’s about caring and I treasure that value most’. Final note to self -Good leaders care. They care about their staff, their students and so much more…