I was speaking to a friend recently who inhabits the mad world of Headship. She had a significant health scare earlier in the year which has caused her to decide to stand down from her role.
We spoke about the many challenges of Headship: the juggling of a multi-faceted role that requires wisdom and skill in financial management, personnel, marketing, health and safety, diplomacy, I.T. and, of course, education…not to mention the occasional requirement to be other things, such as being an electrician or a plumber!
When I was considering the role of Headship, I spoke to five different Heads about the role. Four spoke about the challenges of the job and the moments of loneliness that accompany the leadership of a school. The fifth gave a very different message: speaking about what a fascinating, varied role it is. I agree with this and count myself blessed to be a school principal.
Over the summer, I read a book recommended by a Bickley Park dad who shares my view that Bickley Park boys will require a different skills and mind set in the adult world they will enter and that there will, potentially, be more opportunities for those with an entrepreneurial bent. The book is entitled ‘Unscripted’ and is written by M.J. Demarco. Something that caught my eye was a reference the author makes to research on CareerBliss.com which states that the top three ‘happiest’ jobs are executive chef, loan officer and school principal! This seems an odd assortment, but I would agree with the premise that being a Headmaster has its moments of deep reward.
Speech Day, in July, was a source of deep reward, summarising an incredible centenary year. On that occasion, I announced my intention to learn the trombone. I played a single note (rather badly) and vowed to play a solo at next year’s Speech Day. The intention behind this was twofold: Bickley Park is committed to developing a fantastic wind band and the Head is showing solidarity with this aspiration. Secondly, I believe it is important that anyone involved in teaching children (you could argue particularly the Head, as lead learner) should periodically learn a new skill to remind themselves of the rewards and challenges of learning. I have borrowed a trombone from the Bromley Youth Music Trust and have been teaching myself via a YouTube tutor over the summer holidays. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that learning can be stressful, lonely and demanding. There have been times when I have struggled to make a decent sound and find the motivation to practise. This, I hope, will enable me to empathise with the children who respond to the rallying cry to take up an instrument and join the wind band when they experience similar challenges in their busy lives.
In amongst the multi-faceted challenges of Headship, I hope that I continue to prioritise and value the core purpose of my role: to contribute towards a culture where a love of learning is nurtured and supported.