Review by Jill Berry

13 Jan 2017, 5:00

Jill Berry’s top blogs of the week 9 January 2017

Guest reviewer Jill Berry takes us through this week’s best education blogs.

Bengal tigers welcome

My first choice this week is by Susan Splichal for BELMAS (the British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society – see how easily that rolls off the tongue?), an organisation that is well worth joining if you are interested and involved in educational research in any capacity.

Here she reflects on the importance of communication for leaders in both education and medicine.


Not really on the job description

In this post, headteacher blogger @ChocoTzar describes the many elements that make headship challenging, interesting, unexpected and often entertaining – including “the weird stuff that comes out of nowhere”. This made me smile, but also made me think. As a head, everyone seems to want a piece of you, and you have to be able to cope and put yourself back together again at the end of each day.

But as @ChocoTzar concludes, “To be honest, I kind of like it.”


Dogs and sleds – harnessing action to clarity of vision

This blogger considers the importance of clarity of vision. In the face of multiple priorities, how do teachers, and leaders at all levels, ensure that there is a coherence to their efforts and that they are pulling in the right direction rather than wasting time and energy in busy, but perhaps not necessarily meaningful, work? If actions are harnessed to purpose, they are far more likely to be effective. Sometimes we have to let some of the actions go – the dogs that are pulling the sled of our vision – because they are not helping us to achieve what is most important.


On pace and purpose

In the same vein, Steve Adcock reflects on “pace”, and suggests that we challenge the assumption that rapid growth and development are necessarily advisable, healthy and sustainable. A rapid improvement in standards may sound impressive, but steady growth that is maintained over the longer term is going to take us further and may help us to avoid overload and burn-out.This made me think about extreme diets that can help us to lose weight dramatically, but how probable is it that we will hold our weight steady when, inevitably, we settle back into a more realistic regime?

Adcock makes some specific, practical suggestions about what a more measured approach in our schools might look like.


Making a # of it

My penultimate choice, from @the primaryhead, focuses on how the same arguments circulate about the perceived advantages and disadvantages of holding a particular position on an educational issue. I am absolutely with this writer when he says: “I’m quite up for changing my mind. I enjoy adapting. My beliefs are very strong but they are also apt to change depending on situation and context.”

One of the great advantages of Twitter and the world of blogging, for me, is that I have read arguments that have made me think again, something that I see as a strength, not a weakness. This then almost becomes a post about a flexible, simple, contextualised and grounded approach to school development planning, but we will have to wait another day for that…



Finally, I found the warmth and positivity of this post uplifting. This assistant principal and teacher of computing spent time at the end of last term on lunch duty, talking to students about the importance of showing gratitude. Many completed “gratitude slips” in which they said thank you for the different ways in which staff had helped them. But, as this blogger says: “Gratitude should not end with a few notes at the end of a busy term. Gratitude is the very essence of a purposeful life that should be the foundation of every school ethos.”


And thank you for reading this column. May 2017 be a positive and rewarding year for you.


Jill Berry is author of Making the leap –  moving from deputy to head (Crown House, 2016).

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