Failing to plan is planning to fail!
Many leaders I have the pleasure of working with have told me recently that the upcoming summer break is more welcome than usual for both them and their staff teams. The word unprecedented has been rather excessively used of late but perhaps when we reflect on the 2021/22 academic year we would consider it to be a very appropriate term:
- Dare I start with Covid which continues to cause a challenge for the sector with staff absences creeping up again in recent weeks.
- Exam uncertainty for young people who have never experienced examinations before and for staff and leaders who really don’t know what the results days will bring for our GCSE and A Level learners.
- Key Stage 2 papers ‘lost’ and Primary Assessment Gateway crashing on release day.
- New White Paper for Education issued for the first time in 12 years which left more questions than answers for us to work through.
- The Green Paper on SEND which professionals are waiting for with a degree of urgency to improve what is often poor provision for our most vulnerable learners at a statutory level.
- New roles and responsibilities for many organisations within the sector including Colleges, Multi Academy Trusts and Local Authorities.
- Record breaking temperatures for our final few days of term putting a spanner in the works for our usual end of term plans.
- And finally, we have had three Secretary of States for Education in the last six weeks let alone the wholesale change to the Civil Servants in other areas of educational responsibility.
With all that going on there is no wonder we are looking forward to the summer break. The next six weeks is often a welcome time for some headspace so here are our ‘5 Top Tips’ for the summer break.
1. Recharge the batteries
This is absolutely essential and something that none of us are ever really very good at – switching off. Find time to spend away from work with family and friends and take your emails off your mobile phone (or better still turn it off!). In an emergency there is always a way that colleagues can get hold of you but this will make sure you feel recharged and ready to fulfil your role to the best of your ability. Also remember to give your team the same ‘permission’ by not emailing or contacting them – unless to arrange a social opportunity.
2. Light bulb moments
Often when we completely shut off is the time we have our best ideas or insightful reflection and we dwell on them hoping not to forget them. So, have a piece of paper in a convenient place so that as those moments of inspiration come to you, you can write them down and then get on with the recharge confident that you have a record to come back to.
NB – Health Warning always make sure we run these past our senior colleagues before we launch them!
3. Development Planning
Whether you call it Improvement, Development or Strategic planning the principle of building on our success for sustainable betterment of the organisations we lead is a weighty consideration. Initial plans will already be in discussion but time away from the daily activity of professionally busy lives is always a great time to reflect on whether the priorities are right and how do we know. Give some wider thought to the following reflective questions:
- Have we accurately identified the right priorities to move forward?
- How many new priorities are we working on – do we have the capacity to focus on that many as well as keep the already great things going?
- Have we identified the problem and not the symptom as our priority?
- How will we know we have been successful?
These key strategic questions are arguably more important that the creative actions that will be taken to meet the development needs.
4. Communication, Communication, Communication
The summer is a good time to ensure you set your expectations with all stakeholders to give you a benchmark to hold to. Crucial reminders about standards of behaviour and expectation is a great investment of time – then break these down to bitesize chunks to send as social media reminders throughout the break, these can be automated or coordinated by admin teams throughout the break.
5. Looking up and out in 2022/23
It has been a delight to hear from leadership colleagues how much they have enjoyed reconnecting in person with colleagues in recent months and weeks - long may this continue. Give careful thought to the partners you want to work with, making deliberate choices about how they can benefit you as a leader, your teams or your organisation moving forward to achieve your priorities.
Here at Rollits we are looking forward to welcoming you to our FREE Breakfast Briefing Events scheduled to take place during the next academic year. These will focus on themes that education leaders have said are ‘keeping them awake at night’. The sessions will provide a brief education and legal update and provide a resource to take away to make a positive impact on leaders workload. Save the dates (below) and look out for the invite and booking link.
- Thursday, 20 October 2022 – Focus: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
- Friday, 2 December 2022 – Focus: The importance of employee well-being strategy
- Thursday, 9 February 2023 – Focus: MAT Governance – how to avoid the much publicised pitfalls!
- Thursday, 15 June 2023 – Focus: through the keyhole!
By Sarah Young, YoungPlus