Having followed last years #PedagooHampshire conversation on Twitter I was really excited to have booked on for this years event. I knew that it would be a fantastic opportunity to connect in realtime with passionate educators from across the UK, many of whom I have had the privilege of engaging with via Twittersphere.

My alarm hollered at 6am… on a Saturday and whats more, on Friday afternoon my college had received ‘the call’ to say that Ofsted were coming on Tuesday. Despite this I was sure that I was going to follow through with my intention to attend #PedagooHampshire16, investing in my own professional development and headspace. I’d already been through the fantastic and extensive session line-up and identified which slots I wanted to attend.

My morning started by arriving at college to discover that for the first time ever on a weekend the car park barriers were down! Usually the car park is pay and display open to the public on the weekend but thanks to the big ‘O’, the college had decided to open for a few hours on Saturday and I’m guessing they didn’t want to risk having no parking for staff who were choosing to come in. Unperturbed I aligned the car between a bollard and the car park barrier, got out to guesstimate the reality of clearance on either side and proceeded to bump the kerb and mount the pavement to freedom!

I arrived at Eggar’s School, Alton with plenty of time for a cup of tea and an initial explore. Anticipation was building and it was great to see some familiar Twitter faces. It doesn’t take long to break the ice and before long it’s time to take our seats.

I’ve been reflecting on some of my key learning from the day and thinking about the months that lie ahead. The last few weeks have been full of surprises – we’ve started a new academic year, embarked on FE Area Review and I’ve resigned from my current post. The decision and impact of the latter has by far had the biggest impact. This decision involves taking a bold step to progress into a brand new role and relocate. I’ve been totally blown away by the kind words I have received from colleagues both internal and external to the organisation (emails, conversations and text messages). I’ve been equally blown away (and sometimes shocked) by other responses to my decision. This has been further impacted by the fact that my partner is currently away in America for two months, so the option to share thoughts and feelings and the dimension and refuge that can offer has been limited.

I sat in a session delivered by James Hilton, author of ‘Leading from the Edge’ – my October holiday reading. James spoke frankly and honestly about his experiences of Headship and Leadership and the impact of this on his wellbeing and mental health. Media streams are saturated with an epidemic-like representation of the mental health crisis in children and young people with little positive role modelling or messaging to the contrary. The #teacher5aday movement reminds us of the importance of our own wellbeing, mental health and resilience yet it would seem so many continue to crack under the various challenges and pressures of the profession.

Viv Grant spoke about the importance of ‘the soul in the role’ – what a lovely phrase which captures the essence of YOU. What defines you? Excites you? Drives you? – great stuff!

Sue Roffey explored the magic of micro moments – the importance of relational value and the detrimental impact of toxic environments. I felt saddened that I could identify with strands of the latter, yet inspire to never foster a culture which creates this.

Patrick Ottley-O’Connor added a unique human approach to educational leadership – it’s okay to be human and to have a life and guess what? Staff connect and relate to it. Patrick delivered firsthand accounts of obliterating toxic environments and taking staff with you towards sustainable excellences.

As I listened to many of the presenters at #PedagooHampshire16 and the accounts of participants and their own experiences, I felt excited about the prospects of my next steps of my career journey and the opportunities that are ahead to motivate, value and inspire staff to become heroes and make heroes. I already feel that I have certain good habits in place to look after myself and my team – I generally always leave work at 5pm, I don’t have my work email account linked to my personal devices and I try to get to the gym straight from work during the week. I welcome new team members with a mug and a Kit-Kat to remind them to look after themselves and take a break and I take the team on an away day at the end of each academic year to say thank you and to celebrate the year. Despite this I can see other ways that I can engage with and support staff in my next role to be the best version on them that they can be.

The mission statement of my new organisation is ‘Be all that you can be’ – simple, yet so full of potential.


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