Days Off

Playing in sand though, have you tried it?

Ten days into the Easter break now and some rest had. The headlines about a need for discipline, quiet corridors and control in classrooms is very disturbing – to think the people in key positions see this as a reality; a necessity. It is rather baffling and yes, disturbing. I have not seen the same behaviour from the people I teach. I have not, as a school leader, heard any evidence of the same from the staff I work with; maybe we are in a little oasis and bubbled by young people and families that really appreciate education and are/have bucked the trend; managed to keep learning and have lost nothing. I guess we will never know.

To lead is a huge privilege and a great opportunity. The chance to be able to influence decisions and in some cases make them should not be scoffed at. In leadership, my opinion is, we should get the right people together. These people have various skills, strengths, ideas. At the same time they have the same vision, drive and trust for each other. When you get this right you have a culture that will ensure learning is not lost; it may at times be taken down a different path, but it will just result in different experiences that will aid the future goal, whatever that goal may be – we do not always know. The culture will allow the team to focus on what they are good at, trusting and knowing a colleague will lead where they are best to. Do you know what? We do not always have to be the best at everything we do. We do not have to know all of the answers to every part of a system, machine nor organisation. With the right team and the right culture, there will be success.

We could take the ideal team and run, for example, an all-through school. The question some have though would be about who leads it. Some in the world of education think it should be those secondary trained and some not. My view is it should be those that understand culture, leadership and team work. It should be those that don’t look down on others and think that all primary do is play in sand. Playing in sand though, have you tried it? I am really pleased with the team that has come together over the past few years. It is not an overnight thing and nor is it fluke. It is doing what I often refer to as being consistent, insistent and persistent. It is from a vision I have put simply as, helping schools to be great places to learn. If we are all happy to play in the sand and talk to those around us, feeling that sand to, working together to build, form, problem solve, then we won’t go far wrong – but to think that playing with sand is just primary school and early years stuff is a mistake.

For me, leaders and managers are different. Too often I hear the words manager and manage; in 2021 I think this is a great shame. My view of a leader is maybe different to others. A leader leads and rarely manages. A few thoughts and yes, just my views.

  • The best leaders get the best people around them to work their magic.
    • Managers don’t allow others to use magic – it makes them feel inferior.
  • The best leaders trust the team and are enablers, enabling the magic to happen.
    • Managers destroy trust and judge every act – stifling the freedom to create.
  • Great leaders collaborate within and beyond, sharing success and supporting others.
    • Managers are fearful and are in constant competition to outdo others.

I am currently reading a book by Mark Finnis called ‘Restorative Practice – Building relationships, improving behaviour and creating stronger communities’. Well worth reading if you value others and care about creating the right environments – everybody benefits. Check it out at

The very best leaders only ever manage when managing others is a necessity.

What are you?

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