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Eager to be a great head

Two heads on the revamped leadership course reveal their impressions of the three-day residential. Jill Parkin reports

Name Alan Roebuck Age 52 School Millfields primary, Colchester, Essex Pupil numbers 225 Career history Headteacher for 16 years, five at Millfield and 11 at Alton Park juniors, Clacton-on - Sea

Before the course

The original programme was one of the best professional development experiences I have had since taking up headship more than 15 years ago.

Will the experience seem as powerful the second time around?

The welcome pack arrives The completion of some diagnostic questionnaires by chosen colleagues and myself provided a key to getting the most out of the programme. Three "360-degree" questionnaires, designed to give a complete picture of my strengths and weaknesses according to colleagues, were completed online, capturing perceptions of my leadership and its impact in school.

First evening

We were given an overview of the course programme to provide us with the big picture. A fun activity involving drawing pictures of our favourite book, most exciting memories, and hopes for the course gave an insight into the members of our group.

Day one

Feedback on how our personal characteristics as headteachers were rated by those who had completed the 360-degree diagnostics. It was a great relief to see that my self-assessment was a close match with that of my respondents and that I had exceeded the threshold standards in most areas.

After tea, we learned about how our behaviours are shaped and affected by deep-seated traits and motives. It gave me time to reflect on some of my own drivers such as "be perfect" and "hurry up", and how these traits influenced my leadership style and affected the people around me.

Discussions continued over dinner and again in the bar afterwards. I felt totally at ease discussing things with the group. We had built up so much trust and confidence in each other in a very short space of time.

Day two

When I received my feedback data on our school climate, I was pleased to see that my perceptions were similar to those of my staff. In fact my colleagues' ratings were so high that I wanted to go back to school immediately and give them all a big hug! My co-coaching group did point out, however, that there were some aspects that could be moved from "good" to "great" and this struck a chord as the key theme from the LPSH course.

Day three

Preparations were made for our re-entry to school and thought was given to how we would provide feedback for colleagues.

The end of the residential phase came all too soon. I realised that we'd covered a lot of ground and although I felt tired and challenged, I had gained valuable insights into my leadership style and motivational traits.

The data from the diagnostic tests had raised my self-esteem and my determination to aspire to become a "great head".

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