My 'Why' - Change, Challenge and Support

Firstly, I’ll apologise if this appears as some sort of self-indulgent blog. That’s not my intention although I am finding writing and sharing my experiences as an opportunity to heal, with the hope it can help others at the same time. When the time is right for you, if it’s needed, I’d recommend it.

My ‘why' stems from the desire to do what I didn’t feel able to do before - support, challenge and change. My ‘why’ is from my experiences - the good, bad and at times, sad. If I can support, challenge or change that picture for our colleagues in school, those in positions of leadership - now or aspiring to be in the future - I’ll have played a small part in the support, challenge and change we all need right now and going forward in education.

My motivation comes from a desire to offer the type of help and support school leaders truly need in these challenging times, not the enforced, unnecessary burdensome-style support that is so often provided to us - and I speak from personal experience.

Whether it's ‘failure’ fear-mongering school improvement advisors, sleepless nights over anxiety-inducing Ofsted inspections or unhelpful governors piling on additional responsibilities without a second thought (because they ‘have jobs too!’), those who are supposed to support us often fall short.

It's time for change.  

With that, my goal is to provide meaningful support to fellow school leaders and to help create a system that truly empowers us to lead and support our schools in the best way possible, so we can focus on doing what we know we can do best.


What supported me as a school leader?

My school - we were, for all intents and purposes, a young leadership team or an ‘easy target’ as I tend to refer to it now when hindsight is 20/20. A team with a shared vision, goal and passion for the pupils we had all watched grow.

However, those masking themselves as providing support, did everything but.

I went through every audit, check, process and scrutiny imaginable, and some that I’m convinced were made up too, all in the name of ‘support’.

Because we were ‘failing’?


Because we needed it?


And just when you thought they couldn’t push any more, they pushed a little harder.

Sound familiar?

Despite this, I’ll say that I still feel like one of the lucky ones. A supportive home network, a team (who despite what was thrown at us) never backed down from our belief in what was right - even if that meant taking the risk of ignoring the ‘advice’ given - and an incredible ally in school who did lead beside me.

But from listening to your stories over the last year, I know this isn’t the case everywhere. It’s lonely. It can feel like you’re navigating in the dark and you often aren’t even sure what the end goal is supposed to look like, if you ever get there. Just like me, you’re under immense pressure from those who we’re repeatedly told are there to support us or make things ‘better’. But we aren’t daft and we see right through it, even if we’re often too scared to do or say anything about it.

It’s not your fault and it wasn’t my fault either. We shouldn’t be needing to build walls just to protect ourselves and our team.


What did I learn from this?

Looking back on my experience, I sometimes wonder if I would have made different choices if I had known then what I know now. But in truth, I wouldn't change anything.

I'm proud of the wonderful team I worked with, the (mostly) grateful families we served and the thriving school environment where the children flourished. However, when it comes to the support I received, or rather, the lack thereof, I can only respond with "what support?"

The support out there, if you can find it, is incredibly limited. That lack of support is what made me have to decide between my school and my life. The ways in which the ‘support’ acted meant I couldn’t have both.

How sad is that?

Even sadder is seeing the same theme daily from our colleagues near and far. The shameful reality is that the insufficient support we receive often forces us to make a difficult choice between our careers and our lives, family, hobbies, health…

 What I learned is that more support is needed. I know that’s nothing revolutionary or new, but without doubt, it's true.

What is challenge?

 We all know that leadership at every level is a challenge. As I took on new positions of leadership and responsibilities over the years, I won’t deny I would break down every time claiming I couldn’t do it. I had no one there to challenge me and my thinking in that moment, often left to navigate what I was supposed to do alone and just make it up as I went along. I’m sure you can sympathise with me there - I think we all to a degree. Fake it ‘til we make it in leadership.

But what do I mean by challenge?

If you challenge ideas or people, you question their truth, value, or authority. Is this the type of challenge we experience? How is this productive, supportive or useful?

There’s a distinct difference between challenging yourself, your thinking and your approach for the good of moving things forward, and someone just being challenging. Challenging for the sake of being challenging, or more often than not, demanding.

 The type of challenge I’m referring to is the kind where you’re supported to reflect, guided to assess your approach and given a structure to work with, rather than it all being a little bit of a guessing game.


How can we change school leadership?

Now finally, change. This is my real ‘why’.

After spending the last 12 months reflecting on what was, what has been and what still is, I am determined with all my might to make a change.

Before, I only knew my story. Now I know so many others (which are still only a small ripple in a big pond) and this has only spurred me on at double the speed. There are some far bigger educational changes that need to (and I hope will) take place, and while I will continue to back the corner of all of those united in change, I can’t help but set my focus on what I can do to change things for our school leaders today.

Yes, we’re united; we agree and stand by the need for change. We know it isn’t sustainable as it is and we’ll continue alongside our nationwide colleagues to press for change.

In the meantime, let’s do what we can to help you right here and now.

My ‘why’ - why Honeyguide?

And from all of this, Honeyguide grew - because together, we can support, challenge and change. We can support and guide you, help to challenge your thinking and, in turn, your actions to change the way things are done.

Let us be that ally for you that I never had. The one that I desperately needed.

Because had I had that, who knows? Perhaps I’d still be there.

Let us lead beside you so your story can take a different path.



Gifs?! In an educational blog for teachers and leaders?! Aren't you supposed to be professionals?!

Yes and we are, but remember, we're all human beings too 😀

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