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#Lightbulb Moment 2 Just this ... with only 6 months to go



Struggling with the normal Sunday night feelings, I began thinking about how my life is changing at the moment and how these big changes are beginning to affect my motivation and drive in my normal working day as a serving headteacher in a large secondary school.


After over twenty five years experience - teacher of English, Head of English and Performing Arts, Assistant Head in charge of T&L and curriculum, two deputy head posts in charge of curriculum, T&L and assessment and two headships, both at very large secondary schools with significant challenges, along with working as an inspector, coach and mentor for aspiring headteachers and serving headteachers and an active part of ASCL Cymru council and women in leadership network - I think I have underestimated how much my work has defined me and how much I have relied on it to make some sense of my life.


Now facing retirement from Headship at the end of this academic year, and beginning to think and work though what will replace it, I have thought long and hard about how much the 'title' of Headteacher means to me. I have been inspired by some enlightening chats with a very kind and wise lady, Julia Skinner @TheHeadsOffice, and also Gareth Alcott @GalcottGareth from the NCE, whose patience and support have made me really consider deep feelings and anxieties about who I am, what drives me, what do I want and need next and what do I want to leave as my legacy?


I never set out to be a Head - in fact I never set out to be anything other than a teacher and even that was a surprise occurrence. I came into teaching very late and after a very unusual pathway which is unlike any one else I have ever met - more on that in the future I think. People who know me from my childhood still regularly say to me, " how on earth did you end up as a head?" To be honest, when I reflect on my life, I feel like pinching myself - my life reads like a work of fiction!


But somehow, and very luckily, I was dragged along by some fabulous and generous people who have given me time, made suggestions, given me amazing opportunities and supported my own sense of curiosity about what I could do given a chance. I hope I have done the same for the many people who have worked with me along my journey. There is nothing more satisfying that seeing someone achieve their goal and ambition and feeling you may have played some small part of it. Education needs dedicated and passionate leaders - for me it has been one of my greatest pleasures to work with people who have been inspiring, committed and genuinely driven by the desire to provide the best service they can to our young people. It gives me confidence that the future of education is in safe and competent hands.


Being a coach to some amazing senior leaders, both inside and outside of education, has been eye-opening and inspiring for me. I have slowly faced the truth that I will not see through all of the huge changes and initiatives taking place at the moment in education and school. I have made the decision to hand over this great school to the next captain; one who will be there to move it on and who will give the staff leadership and security. Recognising it is time has been hard but I do not want to prevent the school being successful in its implementation of things.


So, my final months in headship are facing me as I approach retirement age, not graciously I may add! There is absolutely nothing wrong with my brain - it is as challenging, demanding and curious as it has always been - but the body slowly begins to remind you of its limitations. I have hidden disabilities, which I have staunchly fought to avoid making public to prevent judgement or being pigeonholed. They are now catching up with me and despite my battle, at times get the upper hand.


So is the 'title' important? Honestly, no I don't think it is to me. What is important though is that I can still define myself as an educator. Whatever I end up doing - and I really hope opportunities will start to flood in over the next six months, as I dread having nothing to be 'up to' in September when schools return after the summer - it will be linked to serving and supporting schools, leaders, and education in general in order to continue to develop and ensure a solid foundation for the future. That is important to me. The sense of being able to 'serve' and make some small difference is really what defines me. I just need to work out how to do that!



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