Why is networking important?
I have always been of the mindset that there are so much collective skill and experience out there in the education sector that we should all tap into. One school may be outstanding at reading while another at P.E. Why not share these skills and help one other to improve? It makes particular sense to do so in the current climate when budgets are so tight. Networking with other schools, not just your neighbouring school, is an amazing way to share good practice and lesson the burden of the job itself. You can link up with schools with a similar profile to yours, and share your worries, listen to theirs and see how they tackled some of the issues that you are currently facing.
The wellbeing of school leaders can be so closely tied to school performance, that having a support network around you is particularly important. Traditionally networking has been used for moderation, but I think we were really missing a trick, as there is so much more that we could have gained from these sessions. When I was a school leader, there was definitely an air of not showing that you were struggling with something, going home night after night just racking your brain as to how you can solve the problem. Fortunately, now we embrace the fact that there are leaders out there that have been there before us and dealt with the same issues, and who are willing to offer support.
How to get started
It is so easy to start networking yourself. You can join groups like Facebook’s Primary School Leaders (PSL) or you can go down the good old search and email route. Social media has proven a particularly effective platform for networking. Members post in the PSL group asking questions such as - “Who has a really good science curriculum in the North West and would be willing to make links with us?” Our members connect with other school leaders from all over the country and they share good practice.
Networking can really support subject leaders too. Being a subject leader can be a daunting role but just to know that there are thousands of people out there who can support you just puts you at ease. If you’re not on social media then you can simply email the head of a school with a similar profile to yours to ask for support directly. I think it’s important to seek out schools like yours, even if they’re not necessarily geographically close to you, because you’ll find that you have a lot more in common with them. Be sure to give as much detail about your setting as possible and if you can, offer something in return - e.g. “I work in a single-form entry school which has some outstanding practice on our EYFS setting, but we are looking for support with our R.E curriculum. Could you help?” Put yourself out there - you will be amazed at what comes back.
What do you think? Do you have any networking success stories that you want to share? You can do so by posting a comment below or sharing your experiences in one of our groups.
Popular topics this week (Thanks to our group members!)
- Copyright Audit. These seem to be being conducted in force! - Primary School Leaders
- Twitter and Facebook account. Does anyone have any documentation to help us with this, or any advice in general - Primary School Leaders
- Anyone have a Facebook (for parents) acceptable use doc. or use of social media policy - Primary School Leaders
- Eco Schools Policy or something similar for govs that are supporting these areas - Primary School Governors
- Do members in a MAT need to be DBS checked? - Primary School Governors
- If a school needs work doing to the premises and it is urgent eg a new fence or roof where does the money come from if it is part of a MAT? - Primary School Governors
As ever, please leave any thoughts in the comments below and have a great week.
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