The importance of relationships


As he embarks on his first headship, SecEd’s new headteacher diarist reflects on the importance of investing time in building relationships.

As I embark on what will be my first proper headship, my mind is racing with thoughts, plans, aspirations and concerns in equal measure.

But at the forefront of my mind lies what I imagine every child, teacher and parent is feeling at this time of year – hope.

The start of a new academic year brings with it hope and optimism for everyone in education and – who knows? – maybe with a new secretary of state for education, many of us may be notably more optimistic than we have been for some time (or maybe not, time will tell).

This has been quite an unusual summer break for me. With the prospect of moving to a new school to take over the reins as the headteacher, my mind has felt like it has been in two places for a good few months now.

There have been the perennial worries about examination results – for both schools, a very bizarre feeling – and mammoth tasks of ensuring I know inside-out the key issues at my new school, while making sure all the loose ends are tied up at my old school.

It has been more difficult than I ever imagined leaving the students, parents and colleagues with whom I have spent the last four years working as a deputy headteacher – and the emotional investment that went along with that.

A friend of mine who works in the private sector remarked to me recently that he felt that those of us in education are far too loyal to the organisations we work for. 

He asserted that in “business”, for example, employees move between companies with far less emotional attachment.

This perception really resonated with me because, as I pointed out to my friend, it is these emotional attachments that are so crucial to schools being successful.

Indeed, it is these emotional attachments that are the bonds, fusing together those all-important relationships between teaching staff, senior leaders, students, parents and the wider school community.

Moreover, it is these emotional attachments that provide us with hope. Hope for our young people, hope for an improving education system, hope for the communities we serve, and the colleagues with which we work.

I fully understand how education is becoming increasingly business-like, but as I start my career as a headteacher, the one thing that I want to remain a prominent feature of my leadership is the investment in relationships with colleagues, and the young people who I have the pleasure of working with.

I believe that if we neglect these relationships then we are forgetting the core reasons as to why we came into teaching in the first place – not to mention the reasons why many of us become involved in leading schools.

As I reflect on the strong relationships forged with former colleagues, students and families, rather than feeling a sense of trepidation of having to forge a whole new set of relationships with a new school community, I have a feeling of genuine excitement and anticipation.

Although it will take considerable time and effort to establish these relationships all over again in my new school, I don’t need to hope because I absolutely know it will be worth it.

  • SecEd’s new headteacher diarist is embarking on his first headship at a comprehensive school in the Midlands. During this academic year, he will be writing the weekly Diary of a Headteacher, charting the challenges and successes of his first year leading a school.



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