Rising above the pressures of OFSTED – Keeping Your Head…

 In Coaching

As a Headteacher, you will know that when the prospect of an OFSTED inspection is looming, an experience I have experienced a few times now, you and your staff can easily feel overwhelmed waiting to receive ‘The Call’!

As a result, it may often feel as though your every waking moment is filled with thoughts of OFSTED and your nights are no better!

With the weight of OFSTED inspections and the related horror stories that abound, it’s easy to understand why in spite of recent ‘myth busting’ initiatives from OFSTED itself, that many Headteachers and school leaders still feel stressed and anxious in the lead up to an inspection.

The impact?

Sadly, this can mean that for more than a few they unconsciously adopt a fixed mind-set as a coping strategy. They become risk averse for fear of being proved wrong. Their creativity and ability to think outside of the box becomes severely limited too; as they rely more heavily on their left frontal part of their brain [the rational, logical, reasoning part] to carry out the leadership functions of their role.

In this ‘head space’, not only do leaders become detached from themselves and the promise of what their leadership could mean for them and their school, they also become detached from those who are looking to them for inspiration and support.

Because … as author Carol Dweck explains:

“They put everyone into a fixed mind-set. This means instead of learning growing and moving the school forward, everyone starts worrying about being judged. It starts with the leaders’ worry about being judged, but it winds up being everybody’s fear about being judged. It’s hard for courage and innovation to survive a school wide fixed mind-set”

You are more than your school’s OFSTED rating!

Unfortunately, OFSTED categories themselves can become labels to which individuals attach their own sense of self-worth. It shouldn’t happen, but it does.

We need to acknowledge that for as long as this continues to happen, individuals in schools with ‘low’ OFSTED categorisations of worth, will struggle to adopt the behaviours necessary to move them and their schools to higher feelings of self-worth.

It is not impossible to stop this from being the case; we know that there are schools all over the country that find the inner resolve necessary to improve their OFSTED rating. But we also need to be honest and admit that the road to OFSTED success is often laboured and heavy. And for those school leaders who have to direct the footsteps of others, the journey is made even more arduous by the amount of emotional baggage – theirs and others – that they are forced to carry.

A few quick tips for leaders to help safeguard their self-worth, maintain their leadership effectiveness and ensure that they don’t allow the pressures of OFSTED to diminish their confidence – one, some or all might be of use…

  1. Keep your vision at the very centre of all you do: Your vision is the core of all that you are and what you stand for.
  2. Time Management: Make ‘me’ time. Ensure that somewhere in your working day or week you make time for you.
  3. A Good Team Ethos: Surround yourself with like-minded, positive individuals who can bolster your stamina and self-belief. Know where your strength comes from.
  4. Acknowledge Achievements. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate all that is good in your school!

Doing so will create an energy that will help to sustain all members of the school community through the bad times and the good.

  1. Self-reflection. Identity what you, as a leader, have done to bring about those successes. This will help you see and understand the key qualities that you bring to the leadership of your school, breathing a new air of self-confidence into your vision and everything you do.

Taken from a blog by Intergrity Coaching Leadership and Development Solutions for School Leaders

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