Stepping out of the Shadows

Less than a year ago, at the Kent Deputy Headteacher conference, a representative from the LA asked the delegates if they were interested in becoming headteachers. Those who were raised their hands - I was not one of them.

A month ago, I secured my first headship.

So, what changed? How did I go from being adamant that I didn't want a headship to actually taking that next step?

More than anything else, I have to say that the fact that my first headship will be at a school I know and love is an incredible draw. The children are amazing and I already know the quality and dedication of the staff. If it is true that a Head is only as good as their team, then I've already secured a fantastic starting position.

Despite this potentially strong starting position, I still had doubts. My head was encouraging me to apply for the position but was very clear that it should be because "it was what I wanted". The staff all rallied round and told me that they wanted me to apply but I interpreted this as a desire for consistency rather than a faith in my leadership. Even if I did want the position, was I capable? Did I have the necessary competences? Most importantly, what happened if I failed? The implications for the school, for myself and my family were all too clear.

An ex-colleague, for whom I have enormous respect, once said to me that people need to challenge themselves in order to grow and improve. I could have happily remained as a deputy but I knew that one day, it would no longer be enough for me; I would want my own school and that those fears would still be there. I was allowing my fears of a potential future to stay my hand.

So I return to my original question. What changed for me? I can only come up with one thing.

I've had a Headteacher who has been an excellent role-model. She has made me challenge my own ideas of what it means to be a good leader and provided me the opportunities I needed to recognise that capacity within myself.

I've have also been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who inspire me: people whose teaching skills rate as outstanding; people whose commitment to certain aspects of education make me take a second look and perhaps see something I've previously missed; fresh-faced NQT's with an innocent, yet heart-warming, positive outlook on life; and people who show incredible resilience in the face of personal and professional adversity because they believe that their pupils deserve the best.

These are the people who have shaped me into the leader that I have become; the people that I will lead come September; the people that I will be privileged to lead because, in the same way that their pupils deserve the best from them, they deserve the very best from me.

I cannot say that I am 100% prepared for this challenge. What I do know is that I am ready for it and I am going to give it everything I've got.

Phoenix Community Primary School, as any other school, deserves nothing less.

This post was originally written for the Kent Teach Blog on 23rd June 2014.