March 01

5 things I’d want to ask serving headteachers to do today by former Headteacher and author, Dr Jill Berry

One of the things that’s exercising me at the moment is the fact that some of the good educational leaders I know, in good schools, are feeling ground down by the job and are considering leaving, or in some cases have already left, the profession.

I was a teacher for thirty years and a head for the last ten, and I loved my career, particularly headship, which was challenging but also energising and joyful. Navigating Covid was really tough for schools, and I think we’re still suffering from the aftermath of the pandemic. So these are the 5 things I’d want to ask serving headteachers to do today:


Much as you may be committed to your job, remember it is a job – an important job, but still a job, and not your whole life and the sum total of who you are. There needs to be a distinction between your personal and professional identities.


Think about whether you are achieving a manageable, sustainable and reasonable balance between your professional responsibilities and your personal commitments, and if you need to recalibrate, then accept that and begin today.


Know that there is no silver bullet, and no single way of achieving this – it will be different for each individual, but it requires you to challenge unhealthy habits you may have got into and look again at how you are living your life, and according your priorities.


Accept that if you do improve the balance between the personal and professional, you are likely to be better at your job, rather than worse, and you are certainly more likely to be able to stay the course and


Find ways – today – of focussing your attention so that you can absorb yourself in something beyond school, and avoid the tendency constantly to think about school. It will help you to rest, refresh and re-energise. You can do this.