August 2017

The know zone

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  • How do you unwind
    School and college leadership can be very demanding so how do you unwind – is it yoga classes, a glass of wine or perhaps a good book that helps you to relax? Here ASCL members share their views. More
  • Time to change
    Time to Change is a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health. More
  • Adding value
    As the role of the school business professional continues to develop, it’s worth reflecting upon the fact that you won’t be able to do everything effectively yourself. More
  • Do you meet the new standard?
    Kevin Gilmartin explains how the new Quality in Careers standard, including accreditation, will work. More
  • Context counts
    In its new review, Ofsted must tackle the distorting effect that accountability has on the curriculum, says Stephen Rollett. More
  • Leaders’ surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • Spotlight on KS3
    Suzanne O’Farrell asks some important questions to enable us to reflect on the impact and potential of Key Stage 3. More
  • All change
    There is now clear blue water between education in Wales and systems in other home nations, says Tim Pratt. More
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School and college leadership can be very demanding so how do you unwind – is it yoga classes, a glass of wine or perhaps a good book that helps you to relax? Here ASCL members share their views.

How do you unwind

Wellbeing weeks

Wellbeing plays a crucial role in supporting not just our students, but also our staff. In order to extol the virtues of having a healthy work–life balance, in an educational landscape where this is sometimes so hard to hold on to, we have introduced wellbeing weeks for staff, which include quizzes and top tips on how to relax, as well as providing fortnightly opportunities for staff to come together and take part in different experiences. Last half-term we offered one-hour slots to get involved in a variety of activities such as crochet, baking, life drawing, photography, trampolining, yoga, sign language, golf, martial arts, jigsaws... The list goes on! By showing staff that is it important to step back from the frenzy of the working day, it solidifies the importance of what we are all about: team work, quality work and a healthy respect for down time.

Halina Angus
Headteacher, The South Wolds Academy & Sixth Form, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire

Brass band

It’s almost impossible to be stressed about work when you are sat in a brass band rehearsal. The brass band world is an inclusive, friendly and welcoming one. Many bands have training bands that provide tuition and instruments for beginners. It is traditionally seen as very strong in the north of the country but actually there are brass bands in large concentrations in most areas of England and Wales. It’s good exercise, it’s mentally challenging and it makes a great sound. Go out and give it a try. If that doesn’t help you to unwind there’s often beer involved as well.

Jim Fuller
Deputy Headteacher, Dallam School, Milnthorpe, Cumbria

Family and friends

To unwind personally, spending time with family and friends is absolutely key. I will make time for this part of my life. I love my job, but family is what it is all about for me. I also do a lot of long-distance trail running with the furthest run to date being 45 miles. I run late at night or early morning so as not to affect work or family, but I find I have my best ideas and thoughts on a run. It is great head space.

Richard Uffendell
Associate Senior Leadership Team, Head of PE, South Molton Community College, Devon


I run from 20 to 40 miles a week. Early in the morning before school, whatever the weather, come rain or shine. I run at weekends, too – parkrun every Saturday and various other events throughout the North West. Somehow, I find time to run, even with a busy job and five children. Running de-stresses, lifts your mood and boosts your immune system. But it’s not just a personal thing anymore; we’ve recently launched a staff running group and have started running together midweek after school and we’re already seeing improvements in our fitness and wellbeing, plus it’s a great way to get to know staff better. Go on, give it a try.

Rachel Rongong
Assistant Headteacher Stockport School, Stockport, Greater Manchester


The pilgrimage to the local swimming pool twice a week provides me with the change of focus that I need to unwind. A Tuesday swim, dashing from the late Parents, Teachers and Friends Association (PTFA) meeting (or equivalent), gives a midweek opportunity to reflect on the day and gets the heart rate up. I am slowly learning the art of tumble turning and how to swim butterfly without going backwards – lifelong learning in action. The time found for the second swim is sadly on Friday evening, cutting into family time, but does kick start the weekend. All this, plus the late-evening bike ride slipped in once a week as the evenings get longer, are in the vain pursuit of a triathlon dream that injury continues to frustrate. This, plus the occasional surf trip to north Devon keeps the job in perspective.

Rob Gammon
Headteacher, The King’s School, Ottery St Mary, Devon