Brave Heads

Impressions after reading  

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I enjoyed this book a lot. Dave Harris writes from his first hand experience as a head teacher, and shares his practical advice to remind all school leaders why we need to be ‘bolder, brighter and braver than ever before’.

Last year I wrote a blog about the Constant Cloud of Ofsted, and I couldn’t help thinking about that as I read this book. At a time when head teachers do need to be brave, it was really refreshing to hear Harris’ views on both the challenges and the joys of leading a school. He describes the bravery needed by head teachers in respect of facing up to external political imperatives, curriculum design and delivery, securing short and longer term success, and at the same time asks direct questions of the reader about their own bravery:

‘Make a presentation to your Governors comparing what you want for your school with what the Government seem to want.’

‘Ensure you can identify and celebrate examples of risk taking within your staff.’

Harris also discusses different leadership styles can be necessary at different times and again asks the reader to reflect on different occasions they have used the different styles.

My overriding impression with this book was about the importance of having personal authenticity and moral courage. I liked Harris’ invitation to reflect on and review how my leadership might ‘need to change to respond to a turbulent and often contradictory environment’.

Key Points

  • If it isn’t going to benefit the pupil’s learning – don’t do it
  • If it can be done in a fun way, then why not do it that way
  • If you wouldn’t want a visitor to see it – don’t do it
  • A sense of wonder has to permeate your school curriculum
  • The personal authenticity and moral courage of the Head is crucial
  • Encourage team work, risk taking and life long learning in all stakeholders

 Is it based on proper research?

Yes. Heaps! There is an extensive bibliography at the back of the book.

 Some Quotes from Brave Heads

‘It is the gap between what you are told to do and what you know is right where your bravery will be most called upon.’

‘If it isn’t going to benefit the pupil’s learning – don’t do it.’

‘If it can be done in a fun way, then why not do it that way?’

‘When someone succeeds, share and celebrate it.’

‘The glass is half full- ALWAYS!’

‘If you wouldn’t want a visitor to see it – don’t do it.’

‘Wonder is a key component of our schemes of work across all subjects.’

‘Everybody wants to do a good job, and more often than not simply need to right sort of support from the top in order to achieve this.’

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