- Each chapter concludes with a really helpful takeaway section, including guidance for further reading, personal reflections and a list of to-do actions to help ease into the role of a senior leader.
- Jon explores critical aspects of being in a senior leadership role, including the best leaders we find ourselves drawn to are leaders of people.
- Jon sets the groundwork for people looking for a senior leadership role.
- The book manages to capture much of what is needed and desired within educational leadership without getting too bogged down in school management.
- This is the ideal go-to guide to start the next phase of your career in education.
Great teachers don’t always make great senior leaders. I am sure we can all think of an individual who might have been fantastic in the classroom, but when thrust into a senior leadership position suddenly becomes a complete **** (insert own expletive here). But unusually, the step into a senior leadership role often comes without formal training, guidance or support – sometimes individuals are thrown into the deep end and learn a lot of important skills on the job.
In the introduction to his book, Jon Tait highlights that leadership is a craft of its own, taking time and practice to get it right, pointing out that learning from great leaders outside the educational sphere is something where we can all pick up essential skills to support vision, organisation, motivation and (the one various leaders like to dodge when things go wrong) accountability.
Drawn upon his own personal experience of being a senior leader within two secondary schools in England, Jon explores four crucial elements of being a leader, with sections focused on preparing for school leadership, transitioning from middle to senior leadership, leading people, and developing people.
Within the first section, Jon offers guidance and advice on taking the step into senior leadership, encouraging reflection, exploring gaps, picking the right school along with planning the application and preparing for an interview. The next section explores opportunities and actions to consider moving from middle to senior leadership, offering advice on hitting the ground running whilst understanding the school context, planning for school improvement and establishing professional relationships with colleagues and the wider community.
Building on relationships, the last couple of sections become the most critical part of the book, considering leading and developing people. Some leaders can demand respect, just by the very nature of the position they hold, but respect needs to be earned and building positive relationships with staff, pupils and the wider community are critical for any leader. He highlights how the best leaders we find ourselves drawn to are leaders of people, and being honest, open and inspirational helps if you are visible. Planning for change can also be a big challenge for school leaders, and the common-sense advice is to keep it simple, develop influence in others, and look for marginal gains.
This book is written from the England-educational perspective, and references to the inspection regimes, accountability and policies are inevitably evident. This may alienate school leaders from other educational systems which, I think, would be a shame and a missed opportunity for them. Jon has managed to capture much of what is needed and desired within educational leadership without getting too bogged down in school management. Much of a school community culture represents the vision, values and integrity of the school leaders and their influence over key individuals within the setting.
We’ve all known bad school leaders (how on earth did they get that job?) whose people skills are – at best – questionable. But here, Jon sets the groundwork for people looking for a senior leadership role and how to transition from being an amazing classroom practitioner to an inspirational leader of whom the majority of the school community wants to follow in the vision.
*RRP correct at time of publication.