A letter to new headteachers


Dear New Headteacher,

With only a couple of weeks to go until the start of the new academic year, I thought I’d take the time to write you a few lines.

Now, please don’t expect a Ted Talk on how as a headteacher you have the capacity to be a champion for a generation, or a tome on the how to get the best out of your new team. This isn’t a list of things to do in your first 100 days of being a headteacher or an ode to the lessons I’ve learnt in the two years that I’ve been a headteacher.

No, this is simply a letter to let you know that it will be ok. After all, you managed to boss your way through the interview process: the lesson observation, the assembly, the in tray exercise, the student panel, the unseen presentation, the panel interview, the data analysis exercise and every other crazy hoop they asked you to jump through. So THEY clearly believe you’re the right person for the job.

No governing body or academy trust board hires a headteacher just for the sake of it, or because they can’t find anyone else who wants to do the job. They hire the person they think will help take their school to the next level. They hire the person they think has vision, who demonstrates the ability to effectively lead a team, who understands the importance of ensuring children are at the forefront of everything the school does and also the person they know will do the best job possible. And in this case, that was you.

You’ve overcome the first hurdle….in fact, you’ve overcome the second hurdle – the first was submitting your application form – so you’ve proven that you can handle high pressure situations. You now need to remind yourself every day that you got the job because you deserve the job and you need to show your staff, children and parents just how much of a badass their new headteacher is.

Don’t worry if you get things wrong when you first start, it happens and it’s not the end of the world. Don’t worry if you put your foot in it and say the wrong thing to the wrong person, just be prepared to apologise. Don’t worry if you haven’t got a clue what all the figures on the budget sheet are all about, there are courses, great SBMs and other supportive headteachers that can help you get to grips with it all. And don’t worry if half way through the day you realise you’ve forgotten to put a on bra….M&S is just down the road. Yep, that happened to me!

Don’t think you have to deal with everything yourself, make the most of the team around you and if you don’t have one, create one. There will be staff that you can trust to have your back when the going gets tough.

No-one says this job is easy, but (in my most humble opinion), it’s the best darn job in the world. There will be days when you question every decision you make and wonder why on earth those at the top gave you the job in the first place, but there will also be days when you’ll feel like Rocky Balboa after he’s just run up the 72 stone steps leading to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art – Invincible!

So as you edge closer and closer towards the start of the new term, embrace the nerves and acknowledge the Queen Alexandra’s birdwing butterflies that may be parading around in your stomach. This is the start of an amazing journey. One which will generate some of the best anecdotes that you’ll be retelling for years to come and in the words of one great leader:

“Sometimes you have to take a break from being the kind of boss that’s always trying to teach people things. Sometimes you just have to be the boss of dancing.”

Michael Scott, The Office

So, put on your best shoes and dance your way into the new academic year. You’ve got this!

Your fellow boss of dancing.

Amanda Wilson

p.s, I’m on Twitter as @AmandaWilson910

If you’d like additional support during your first year of headship, click on the link below and let’s have a chat.

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