Headship -punch, after punch, after punch.

Blog by Jon Le Fevre, Headteacher

I have been thinking about how to describe Headship right now.

The image of two boxers in a ring hitting each other repeatedly came to me.

However, as a Headteacher, there are a few differences:

  1. There are many opponents in the ring at the same time, throwing their punches at you.
  2. The heavy-weight boxers are waiting in the wings ready to add to the hits and they will only give 24 hours’ notice they are coming! And they come to deliver rounds and rounds of punches and leave you on the canvas, battered, with a one-word judgment!
  3. The heavyweights refuse to pause their visits to the ring, even after 100s of 1000s of people asking them to.
  4. We cannot hit back as it would be unprofessional and a criminal act in the eyes of the heavyweights.
  5. The rules of the sport change on a regular basis without notice, so just when you think you know where a punch is coming from, it changes.
  6. There is no defence from most of the punches. And, sometimes we even have one hand tied behind our backs. We just have to keep taking them over and over again.
  7. There is a feeling of personal responsibility for every punch and the effect is not just the immediate impact that hurts, they go on hurting well after the strike.

This relentless pounding and the fear of a heavy-weight onslaught leads to severe brain pain.

And sadly, there seems to be only one option to properly protect ourselves…

GET OUT OF THE RING!!!

Most Headteachers want to stay in the ring. They want to do it and keep taking strikes for the children and staff they serve. However, sometimes it just hurts too much and they have to exit.

Those that do stay, it seems are also in pain and not very many punches from feeling they need to get out of the ring.

So, if you get the chance…please ask a Head how they are, what are the most painful punches, where the most come from, how much they fear the heavyweights, and how close they are to leaving the ring.

If they are not okay and feel battered, maybe ask and act on these questions:

How the number of punches could be reduced?

How they can be protected from the punches?

How the impact of the heavyweights can be reduced, before, during, and after their onslaught.

How you can help them defend themselves?

Maybe…

Governors articulating their views of the heavyweight and taking responsibility for the outcome of that fight.

Setting safety measures for the heavyweight fight.

Agreement on how to protect and support headteachers to space away from training, to recover regularly.

Leadership coaching and well-being services for all staff

Sharing views nationally

Thank you for reading this and please let me know if this resonates and if there are any other ways you have helped yourself in the ring – let’s find ways to get through this, together.

For those who have left the ring and I wish you the best in your recovery.

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