A Headteacher’s Leadership Journey: 12 Takeaways

by Annie Boate

A Headteacher’s Leadership Journey: 12 Takeaways

By Dr Victoria Carr, Headteacher – Woodlands Primary School

Thank you to Victoria for sharing these powerful nuggets of wisdom from her Headship journey so far with the Coachinginschools Community. We hope you find them inspiring and useful.

1. We have an absolute moral imperative as people who work with children to take care with what we say to them BUT also to our colleagues. What we say MATTERS.

2. You need resilience. It is essential, but you can’t buy it, nobody can gift it to you, and you get it through pain, failure, humiliation, being unfairly treated, being hurt. It also can be eroded at times, for which you need a team to help you at low times. 

3. Take any opportunity you are presented. Any. Who knows the benefit in the long run, in your personal/professional life/character development/mental health- so do it. What’s the worst that can happen? Your pride may be dented if it doesn’t work out, don’t let your ego stop you.

4. Take lessons from every experience – be them positive or negative ones. Learn how you DON’T want to be, and grow into how you DO want to be. 

Never stop learning: academically, socially, reading, discussing, challenging yourself. 

5. If you can influence – influence with integrity, for the greater good. As a TA lead, friend, teacher, union rep, headteacher, whatever. Do things with love and gratitude.

6. Live your values and don’t deviate. You need to sleep at night with a clear conscience and a happy heart.

Do not do unto others … simply do as you would do – the end.

7. Absorb the blows and radiate the joys. This is the graft of living. It is hard, but worth it.

8. You do not need to prove yourself to anyone. Be you. It’s too much effort to be different for different people – be you and your people will find you. Seek coaches, seek counsellors, seek those who will facilitate you becoming better, knowing yourself profoundly.

9. If someone judges you – let them. If they judge you harshly or unfairly, don’t let it detract from the you they don’t see. Keep being you, the best version of you that you know how to be.

10. Build a network of diverse people. Build a team and be part of other people’s teams. Be kind and be generous with your time, but move on if you are not/no longer valued – some things are time limited and that is ok. Don’t be jealous of others, if they support shared values, raise them up!

11. Apply for anything you feel could be right – no matter if you hit all of the criteria or not. Give it a go. The next step is always a ‘reach’ for anyone-and you learn to fill the role even if you are way out of your comfort zone to begin with, and terrified.

12. Don’t tell yourself you can’t – you will be right. Do not let age, gender, marital status, ethnicity, dependents, sexuality, EVER impede your decisions about your life. You will likely get only one – you need to know at the end that you have lived it.

That’s all I had to offer – 46 years in to it all and I can distill my wisdom into 12 sentences.

Dr Victoria Carr


Read more articles on Headship…

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  2. How do Headteachers make the greatest impact across their schools?