Madrassah managers are faced with numerous tasks and challenges at the start of each academic year; from recruiting, to registration, to resources to safeguarding, and many other immediate and pressing demands.

Often with such obligations, big goals for improving the quality and standards can easily disappear under the rubble for a long time. The article below offers some guidance on how to avoid this.


The frenzied start to the new term can sometimes make headteachers lose sight of their aims for the year ahead. Claire Boyd offers her tips to stay focused on your goals

By this point in September, your optimistic projections of a swan-like start of dynamic, smooth and energised leadership are likely to be fading faster than your holiday tan. No doubt you have already had to address a handful of unforeseen mini-crises and unexpected events and you are starting to wonder if that feeling of sand between your toes was merely a wistful daydream.

Despite this reality, it is important for all headteachers, regardless of experience, to pause and step away from the back-to-school bandwagon in order to give careful consideration to exactly what your strategic leadership plan for the next three terms looks like, whether you have already derailed from it or whether it needs to be amended.

No successful school can get by these days without a solid development plan. But the key question is: how do you ensure that there is blood coursing through the veins of your development plan, keeping it alive and beating strongly all year round? How will you discriminate between the quick fixes that will deliver an immediate oxygen hit and the larger-scale, whole-school change that will deliver improved educational outcomes and experiences for all pupils?

Your first action should unquestionably be to reconnect with your school’s vision and aims. This is often unintentionally overlooked as the long list of box-ticking and paperwork takes over, and we become easily distracted and disconnected from the essence of what we are committed to engendering within our schools. What is your pledge to the pupils walking through the gates each morning? To their parents? To your board of governors and the staff who are responsible for bringing your school to life each day?

Pausing to reaffirm the drivers behind your school’s vision and reconnecting them with your personal values as leader of your school is vital. It is this springboard that will deliver the authenticity, credibility and professionalism that is required to work strategically and to articulate the short- and long-term priorities for the year ahead.

Here are five other things that can help that process.

  1. Self-evaluation with meaning

Each school’s relationship with robust and meaningful self-evaluation will be different. How closely connected the leadership team and wider staff body are with reflection, evaluation and development planning will depend on the length of time you have been in post and the recent history of your school.

Evaluating what is being done and what needs to be done to improve outcomes and experiences for pupils will make it easier to define long- and short-term priorities for the year ahead. Remember that effective self-evaluation must reflect the voices of all stakeholders; omit pupil, parent and staff voices in your self-evaluation at your peril.

  1. External calls to action

The inescapable call to action from inspection boards, compliance regulations, local authority and executive boards will provide a list of tasks for priority action. Ensuring full regulatory compliance is an essential short-term priority for all headteachers and should be accompanied by a clear timeline for completion, review and spot-checking.

  1. No head is an island

Your wider priorities for the new school year cannot be addressed without consistent staff buy-in and robust advocacy from your leadership team. Before provision for either long- or short-term steps can be taken, time must be invested in bringing staff on board with the rationale and intended impact of any proposed action. This, coupled with strong endorsements from your leadership team, will allow an effective cascade approach to the implementation and delivery of positive outcomes.

  1. The value of consolidation

Resist the temptation to plough on with change for change’s sake. Ensuring the security of the things that already work well should not be underestimated. Recognise what is good and what needs to stay good, and look for how these areas of best practice can be safeguarded and extended within your long- and short-term development planning.

  1. Find flexibility

The undoubted time, effort and energy that goes into defining short- and long-term priorities for a new academic year cannot be underestimated. However, no matter how committed you are as a staff and school to delivering impact in your chosen areas, space must be provided for adaptation over the course of the year. Unforeseen changes to statutory requirements, compliance regulations, and internal staffing or pupil issues will undoubtedly arise in the coming months. Effective prioritising allows space for reflection, review and change. Do not be afraid of altering your priority pathway if you need to. Reaffirmation of your school’s aims and leadership values will provide the compass points necessary for flexibility.

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