What I gained from Into Headship

Claire outside Dunbar Grammar School where she holds the post of Deputy Head Teacher

Into Headship helped me enormously as a leader. With increased knowledge and understanding of the national and international perspective, I now have a deeper appreciation of why we do things – and because my opinions and values are rooted in knowledge I have far more conviction and self-belief. I’ve become less operational and more strategic.

I first heard about Into Headship through the CPD coordinator at my local authority.

I’d never had any formal leadership training, and although I’ve benefitted from a lot of mentoring, encouragement and support from those around me, a qualification had always been on my radar and something I really wanted to pursue before taking the next step in my career.

Into Headship really appealed as a way to increase my academic knowledge and professional understanding, but of course SCEL was a new entity and the programme was just being introduced at the time so there were also some unknowns around the practicalities of the course. I considered it very carefully and decided that, yes, this was definitely something I I’d benefit from and wanted to invest my time in.

I love learning and I love learning environments so to be honest I had a bit of a romantic vision of getting back into the books. The reality was harder than I might have imagined, and I’d never pretend that taking on this level of study when also focusing on an important and challenging full time job isn’t difficult.

But it’s also hugely rewarding.


As I suspected, I loved the professional reading. My vocabulary and understanding of ‘big issues’ began to improve almost straight away, and this gave me new confidence but a less expected benefit was that Into Headship marries very well with what you actually do in school.

There’s nothing artificial or contrived about the learning and nothing that doesn’t directly impact on your work. For me, this is really important.

In the past I often felt I was so busy with the day to day that I couldn’t lift my head and take time to do the reading I wanted. SCEL has not only given me the green light to work on myself, but has shown me the benefits and efficiencies that can be gained from doing so and it’s helped me enormously as a leader.

Working with SCEL has also equipped me to better take on some very specific strategic change projects such curriculum evaluation and enhanced tracking and monitoring.

With increased knowledge and understanding of the national and international perspective, I now have a deeper appreciation of why we do things – and because my opinions and values are now rooted in knowledge I have far more conviction and self-belief.  I’ve become less operational and more strategic.

I’m better at prioritising, and I’m better at handing over control and supporting people to make their own path. This leaves me less thinly spread, helps others progress and brings about new ideas, creativity and innovation in the different things we do.

And finally, I guess having more exposure to facts, figures and case studies around the big picture challenges faced by young people in Scotland has given me more appreciation of individuals and factors affecting them. In a sense I’ve taken off the rose tinted glasses when understanding what our young people and even colleagues may be dealing with outside the classroom.

When I become a head, I hope to become an amalgamation of the best head teachers I’ve worked with. They all have different attributes I can learn from and I’m lucky to have been not just helped but also inspired by a wide range of mentors and role models throughout my career.

Picture Copyright Chris Watt Tel - 07887 554 193 info@chriswatt.com www.chriswatt.com Twitter @chriswattphoto
For me, leadership is relentlessly positive and always evolving.

It’s about building schools as communities and places that offer opportunities for young people to thrive. I’m the person I am today because of the support that has been offered to me and a desire to pay that forward is something that motivates me every day.

I may not fit the traditional head teacher stereotype but I have high standards for myself and high aspirations each and every pupil.

I believe in passion, care and hard work, and I believe that fostering good relationships and setting the bar high will help me help others.

There’s nothing more important than showing that we care about each other and that we can help our young people reach greater and greater things. That’s not always achieved by grand gestures, it’s about the small, consistent things we do and how we make people feel.

It’s about listening, support, empathy and consistency. It’s about being true to yourself and the needs of your school, and it’s about nurturing people and enabling others to lead.

That’s what’s important to me and that’s where I’ll make my difference.

If you are aspiring to headship, read more about the Into Headship programme and application process.

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1 comment

  • I heard you speak Claire at the SCEL Conference in Edinburgh in March, was there to support a new cohort of ITH group from Fife, and enjoyed reading your blog on your own leadership journey. You will be a wonderful HT in the near future – you speak and write with real authenticity and passion and that’s what make great leaders. Good luck ahead.
    Sam Murray Professional Learning and Leadership Development Officer Fife Council

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