Assess Like a Consultant Doctor: Chapter 8 preview from Wholesome Leadership

As part of this series of short posts to introduce my book, Wholesome Leadership, today I’m sharing a preview of Chapter 8:  ‘Assessing Like a Consultant Doctor’.

Wholesome Leadership is now on sale for pre-order and will be published around the 22nd of May 2018. You can read some of the early reviews or find out how to order here –  www.wholesomeleadershipbook.com 

This chapter sits in the second section of the book which is focused on the ‘head’ of leadership, part of the H4 Leadership Model which captures the heart, head, hands and health of school leaders. It follows on from previous posts I’ve written including Chapter 6 – ‘Strategic School Improvement & Research’ and Chapter 7 – Healthy Accountability‘.

H4 Leadership Model: ‘The Heart, Head, Hands & Health of School Leadership…

Assessment has become a primary culprit in the ongoing challenges of teacher wellbeing, recruitment and retention. Workload in this area has spiralled out of control – particularly in areas such as marking, data inputting and evidence gathering. Alongside this, a lack of clarity around national assessment since the removal of levels and increased accountability pressure on schools to achieve in performance tables have combined to create the perfect storm.

Within the chapter, I share some of the challenges that are faced by schools in this area, suggest 10 steps to ‘sorting out summative assessment’ and talk about how we can reduce workload through revising approaches to marking and feedback. The analogy of a ‘consultant doctor’ is used to suggest how we can use assessment in a more manageable and meaningful way within schools.

Assessing like a consultant doctor

One of the perks of having a child with a disability and a complicated medical history is that you get to see the expertise of consultant doctors up close.  I have immense respect for everyone in the medical profession, but some of the specialists who have worked with Freddie have been class acts. One of the things that strikes me about these doctors is how they look beyond the obvious and avoid drawing quick conclusions. Rather than making decisions based on limited information, the most skilled and experienced doctors will examine a range of information about a patient as part of their assessment, including blood tests, scans, examinations in clinic, patient history and referrals from other medical professionals. Similarly, the most effective teachers and leaders understand the limitations of any particular test or assessment and can use their experience and expertise to interpret them wisely. And just as careful and intelligent consideration of patient information can lead to an accurate diagnosis and the prescription of helpful treatment, meaningful assessment can lead to greater understanding of gaps in learning and effective tailored teaching and intervention.

Within the chapter, I interview Daisy Christodoulou (Director of No More Marking and author of Making Good Progress and the 7 Myths of Education‘.  who kindly gives up time to offer her expertise about the challenges that remain in schools to adapt to a life without assessment levels.

Here is a summary of the chapter in one page…

Wholesome Leadership is now on sale for pre-order and will be published around the 22nd of May 2018. You can read some of the early reviews or find out how to order here –  www.wholesomeleadershipbook.com !

Wholesome Leadership Preview Chapter 7: Healthy Accountability

As part of this series of short posts to introduce my book, Wholesome Leadership, today I’m sharing a preview of Chapter 7:  Healthy Accountability.

Wholesome Leadership is now on sale for pre-order and will be published around the 22nd of May 2018. You can read some of the early reviews or find out how to order here –  www.wholesomeleadershipbook.com 

This chapter sits in the second section of the book which is focused on the ‘head’ of leadership, part of the H4 Leadership Model which captures the heart, head, hands and health of school leaders. It follows on from previous posts I’ve written including Chapter 6 – ‘Strategic School Improvement’.

H4 Leadership Model: ‘The Heart, Head, Hands & Health of School Leadership…

Within the chapter, I identify three challenges for school leaders

  1. Taking the ‘fear’ out of the ‘challenge’, creating the right conditions in our school for healthy accountability. I use Mary Myatt’s concept of ‘High Challenge; Low Threat’ as a model for thinking about how we can keep the stakes low but the challenge high within schools.
  2. Developing effective processes for school improvement that are used consistently as part of an ongoing cycle. The chapter shares some approaches to processes such as appraisal, learning walks and the use of data.
  3. Managing external accountability with confidence; staying in control of inspection. I discuss how we can stay in control of external processes such as OFSTED and also offer some suggestions as to how OFSTED might further reform in the future.

For some more thoughts on developing healthier approaches to accountability in schools, I interview Headteacher, Michael Tidd, well known for his expert views and opinion on primary curriculum and assessment. Michael offers his typical blend of pragmatic wisdom and informed opinion on the challenges.

Here is a summary of the chapter in one page, as designed by the brilliant Oliver Caviglioli.

 

Wholesome Leadership is now on sale for pre-order and will be published around the 22nd of May 2018. You can read some of the early reviews or find out how to order here –  www.wholesomeleadershipbook.com 

 

 

Wholesome Leadership Preview Chapter 6: Strategic School Improvement & Research

As part of this series of short posts to introduce my book, Wholesome Leadership, today I’m sharing a preview of Chapter 6:  Strategic School Improvement.

Wholesome Leadership is now on sale for pre-order and will be published around the 22nd of May 2018. You can read some of the early reviews or find out how to order here –  www.wholesomeleadershipbook.com 

This chapter sits in the second section of the book which is focused on the ‘head’ of leadership, part of the H4 Leadership Model which captures the heart, head, hands and health of school leaders. It follows on from previous posts I’ve written about the heart of leadership such as ‘Finding your leadership voice’ and Building an Ethos and Professional Culture.

H4 Leadership Model: ‘The Heart, Head, Hands & Health of School Leadership…

Within the chapter, I focus on the importance of building a sensible school improvement strategic and present some ideas and models around how school improvement can be achieved. One of these is the ‘vital organs of school improvement’ – a simple way of looking at how to tackle the nuts and bolts of improving a school.

The chapter also looks at how research can be used more effectively to support school improvement. When I look back at the initiatives we were running in schools 10 years ago, I cringe at how we accepted them so willingly because they sounded like a good idea or perhaps we just had a hunch they were right. Thankfully now, there is a much better conversation taking place around the use of research in schools and I share some thoughts and ideas around how we might engage better in this.

The chapter features two interviews, the first with Sir David Carter, National Schools commissioner who I talk to about his model of school improvement: The 4 Stages of Improving a School. I first heard Sir David talk about this model in 2016 at the Education Festival and find his language a refreshing alternative to the OFSTED accountability labels that dominate too much of the discussion about school improvement across the country.

In the second interview, I talk with Clare Sealy about the use of research to support school improvement. As Headteacher of St Matthias Primary School in Tower Hamlets, Clare has become well-known within the research community in England for the application of research and cognitive science into practice within her school. I enjoyed questioning her about her journey over the last few years and what she has learned.

Here’s a summary of Chapter 6 on a page:

Wholesome Leadership is now on sale for pre-order and will be published around the 22nd of May 2018. You can read some of the early reviews or find out how to order here –  www.wholesomeleadershipbook.com 

Wholesome Leadership Preview Chapter 5: Creating a Vision & Implementing Change…

Today, as part of this series of short posts to introduce Wholesome Leadership, I’m sharing a preview of Chapter 5: Creating a Vision & Implementing Change.

This chapter sits in the first section of the book which is focused on the ‘heart’ of leadership, part of the H4 Leadership Model which captures the heart, head, hands and health of school leaders. It follows on from previous chapters about the ‘heart’ of school leadership including ‘Finding your leadership voice’ and Building an Ethos and Professional Culture.

Stephen Covey tells us that everything is created twice: once as an idea or vision and the second as an actualisation, where a vision becomes reality. The chapter is split into two parts, to deal with both the first creation of developing a vision for change and the second creation of bringing this change to life through careful implementation. I use some of Simon Sinek’s ideas in the first part which focus more on ‘why’ we exist before deciding what we do. In the second part, we look more at the importance of implementation – something that is often overlooked in schools in my experience.

‘Vision without implementation is hallucination.’

Thomas Edison

Within the chapter, I interview Peter Ford who worked with the leadership team when I first took on the Headship at Simon de Senlis to help us create our vision for improving the school. There some explanations of the processes that we used such as appreciative enquiry and consultation.

Here is the chapter summarised in a page.

Wholesome Leadership is now on sale for pre-order and will be published around the 22nd of May 2018. You can read some of the early reviews or find out how to order here –  www.wholesomeleadershipbook.com 

Wholesome Leadership Preview Chapter 4: Building Ethos & Professional Culture:

Today, as part of this series of short posts to introduce my book, Wholesome Leadership, I’m sharing a preview of Chapter 4: ‘Building Ethos & Professional Culture.

This chapter sits in the first section of the book which is focused on the ‘heart’ of leadership, part of the H4 Leadership Model which captures the heart, head, hands and health of school leaders. It follows on from yesterday’s post about ‘Finding your leadership voice’. 

H4 Leadership Model: ‘The Heart, Head, Hands & Health of School Leadership…

Building Ethos and Professional Culture…

Important things in any school are its ethos and professional culture. Together, they affect the mood, performance and commitment of every individual; they are the ‘soil’ in which all other things grow.

‘Leaders Make the Weather’

Vic Goddard

The chapter unpicks the definitions of ethos and culture and suggests ways that we can cultivate the right ‘conditions’ within a school. It explores some of the problems that exist with cultures based solely on ‘compliance and consistency’ where checklists and minimum expectations rule.

Within the Chapter, I interview Simon Smith, Principal of East Whitby Primary School. I have followed Simon’s blog with interest since he took up Headship at the school in 2015 and have always enjoyed the authenticity with which he writes about leading a school. He talks eloquently and with passion about ethos as ‘the glue’ in his school.

Wholesome Leadership is now on sale for pre-order and will be published around the 22nd of May 2018. You can read some of the early reviews or find out how to order here –  www.wholesomeleadershipbook.com 

Wholesome Leadership Preview Chapter 3: Finding your Leadership Voice

Having yesterday introduced Wholesome Leadership and the H4 Leadership Model which contains the Heart, Head, Hands and Health of school leadership. Today, I’m sharing a overview of Chapter 3 – ‘Finding your leadership voice’.

The first section of the book focuses on the ‘Heart’ of Wholesome Leadership and consists of  three chapters. I describe the heart of school leadership as follows:

Knowing what you stand for. Believing in what you do and who you are. Creating the right ethos and professional culture and leading careful change effectively.

The premise of Chapter 3 is that before we start managing or leading others, we need to first develop ourselves. In it, I talk about the challenge of working out who you are as a leader – something that can often be left to chance in schools.

People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them.  The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value. 

Stephen Covey

Within the chapter, I interview Peter Hall-Jones. Peter was the first Headteacher I ever worked for on my first teaching practice over 20 years ago. He has continued to challenge and inspire me over this time. Peter helped me to work out what my beliefs and values around school leadership are and now works with schools and businesses across the world doing similar work.

This is probably also a good time to introduce Oliver Caviglioli:  illustrator, designer, former special school Headteacher and all-round ‘good egg’. I was privileged to have Oliver lead on the design of the book and draw the illustrations and visuals. One of the many brilliant contributions that Oliver made to Wholesome Leadership was a simple preview to capture the essence of each chapter.

Here’s Chapter 3 in one page:

In tomorrow’s preview, I’ll share the next chapter in the ‘Heart’ of school leadership: Culture and Ethos.

Wholesome Leadership is now on sale for pre-order and will be published around the 22nd of May 2018. You can read some of the early reviews or find out how to order here –  www.wholesomeleadershipbook.com 

Introducing Wholesome Leadership Previews…

This Easter, I’m publishing a book. My first/last/only? Who knows…

It’s almost exactly 12 months ago since I first spoke to Alex Sharatt of John Catt Educational about writing a book. Since then, I’ve been engaged in the most interesting, tortuous and self-conscious process of my life.

After a year of writing through the late evenings, early mornings, weekends and holidays, I sent almost 100,000 words to the publisher last week. Apparently by May 2018, Wholesome Leadership will be in print.

It feels a bit odd. Writing a book has been both exciting and nerve wracking, at least for me. And having invested a year writing, I’d love for people to read it!

‘Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.’

John Wesley

Wholesome Leadership

The premise of Wholesome Leadership is simple: that we need more good people to become (and remain) school leaders. My one hope for the book is that it will be helpful in the daily lives of those who take on responsibility for leading and managing a school.

But school leadership is complex and the challenges in education cannot be overcome through quick-fixes or over-simplified answers. So to organise the many threads of leadership, I have developed the ‘H4 Leadership Model’ to represent the Heart, Head, Hands & Health of school leaders. Each of these four domains is important; to neglect one is to neglect the whole.

Within Wholesome Leadership, three chapters are devoted to each of these areas. Every chapter contains a discussion of some of the challenges from my own experience alongside research, advice and suggestions as well as a guest contributor.

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

L. Mencken

H4 Leadership Model: ‘The Heart, Head, Hands & Health of School Leadership…

Expert Interviews

Having decided to write about a breadth of issues, I quickly realised that I would need to bring in some expert help on different subjects. And so within the book, I am delighted to include 14 expert interviews with some of my educational heroes – some who I have been privileged to work with, others who I have been influenced and inspired by.

This image is taken from the contents page which shows the 3 different chapters in each of the 4 domains within Wholesome Leadership. It also shows the interviewees on the right hand side.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll preview each of the chapters with an overview of the main thrust and a snippet of an interview.

Wholesome Leadership is now on sale for pre-order and will be published around the 22nd of May 2018. You can read some of the early reviews or find out how to order here –  www.wholesomeleadershipbook.com