Key Voices #92- School leader wellbeing and how governors can support it with Dr. Helen Kelly

“There are plenty of reasons why governors should treat their Head and their teachers like valuable assets to be taken care of.”

This week we talk to Dr. Helen Kelly, retired school principal, researcher and writer. Helen tells us about the 20 years she spent teaching and leading in international schools and the importance of school leader wellbeing as a strategic issue for governing boards.  Helen explains the impact stress has had on her physical health and her decision to retire early, while also sharing the findings of her international research into school leadership. 

We talk about: 
  • Helen’s career prior to teaching and her work in international schools
  • The changing nature of school leadership and how stressed many school leaders today are
  • The particular challenges of leading a large diverse school community as the head of an international school,  many of whom are living away from home 
  • How boards can make an impact on leader wellbeing and handle it strategically, plus some practical things they can do to support their  leaders more effectively 
  • Why it is so important for headteachers to prioritise themselves and how they can empower their teams by sharing some of their responsibilities

“As a leader [of an international school] you are responsible for a community who are mostly away from home...not just kids and their parents... but staff as well who don’t have their normal support network around them. The school community takes on a greater significance for them and as Head you become responsible for the wellbeing of possibly thousands of people.”

“School leaders need to feel that they are not alone and they are not failing if they are struggling.”

“Sometimes we do have a sense of over-responsibility, feeling we are responsible for everything that happens within that school building regardless of whether or not we have control over it.”

You can learn more about Helen’s work and read her research here

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