I have been a teacher for 26 years, a Headteacher for 11 years and, at the age of 50, this much I know about the madness of treating colleagues punitively.
Writing sharply takes time. There is no evidence-base supporting what follows, but someone clearly took a lot of time to write this piece for the Leeds NUT bulletin. And, as Gabriel Garcia Marquez once wrote, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work:
Being humane is a leader’s strength, not a weakness. At Huntington we try to live by our core values: RESPECT; HONESTY; KINDNESS. I don’t always look after my colleagues as well as I might, but it’s not for want of trying; indeed, recent feedback has made me double my efforts to be kind. I take staff well-being seriously for two reasons – firstly, because I treat colleagues how I would want to be treated myself and secondly because, as I articulated some years ago, our students’ futures depend upon my colleagues being healthy, happy and trusted:
Headteachers need to trust their colleagues more than ever. Seneca said, “The first step towards making people trustworthy is to trust them.” In the climate of fear which this government has so brilliantly cultivated it is too easy to threaten staff in response to being threatened oneself. Headteachers have to do the opposite. At our school we deliver over 2,000 lessons each week; I cannot teach them all, so what I have to do is develop my colleagues in a safe school environment which allows them to thrive professionally and personally.
As Crosby, Stills and Nash once sang, Love the ones you’re with…