Leaders like you – Andrea Keith

Andrea Keith is a Headteacher at Cradle Hill Community Primary School

Could you give us a brief picture of how you became the headteacher at your school?

I have worked at the school for a number of years and was the Assistant Headteacher (responsibility as Inclusion Manager and DSL) when the previous headteacher retired. The school advertised and interviewed but did not appoint and asked me to be Acting Head for a year. I was half way through completing my NPQH at that stage and had an interview for a headteacher role at another school. I was acting Head for approximately 6 months before applying, being interviewed for and appointed as headteacher.


How would you describe the ethos of your school? How do you maintain it?

We are an inclusive school with a caring ethos. In my first September as headteacher we renewed the aim, vision and values for the school. We found that the only way to maintain these is to “talk the talk and walk the walk” daily. I try to be on the gate every morning as children and parents come in and visit every classroom at least twice a week.


What do you enjoy most about your role?

I really enjoy the unpredictability of the day, you never know quite what will happen, but I get the most enjoyment from walking around the school and seeing the children in class. There is always a child who wants to show me some learning they are proud of or share a story from out of school.


What’s the biggest challenge you face personally in the role? How do you tackle this?

The biggest challenge is the work-life balance. It is hard to stop when you get home and try not to let the work day impact home life. Having a supportive and amazing family who tell me I’m not listening and that I need to leave my work at school and go on a bike ride to release some tension is how I tackle it!


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

This is just a job; it is the best job in the world but still a job.


What strategies have you implemented to get around funding cuts?

I have an amazing School Business Manager who is very good at negotiating deals. Several of my staff are Lead Practitioners/Moderators for the local authority. This means they get great CPD and we receive money. We rent out rooms, host training and are always looking for additional funds through bids etc.


How are you helping staff to manage workload?

I have streamlined the assessment process, removed the marking and feedback policy and meetings are kept to a minimum with clear agenda and time limits.


How do you encourage staff to stay motivated and stay in the profession?

I love my job so will always say to staff there is no better job in the world than being a teacher – this positivity is essential for staff to stay motivated. I also believe strongly in providing CPD and development opportunities for all staff wherever possible. I will always find time to listen to them – my door is open, and if I know staff are having a difficult time, I check in with them regularly.


How often do you find yourself with a task or project that you feel unqualified to do? How do you manage that?

At least once a week a task or project comes up that I think ‘wow, I would never have expected to do this!’ I have friends who are experienced headteachers, retired and current, who I ring, and I contact the HR/Personnel team or look through The Key!


What gives you the confidence to take tough decisions and the motivation to keep going?

I will always do what I believe is the best thing for the children, the staff and the school community. If you genuinely believe you are doing the right thing for the pupils, the tough decisions will become easier. My motivation is that I genuinely believe society will be a better place for all if children are taught well. We teach the next generation and if we want society to be more caring, inclusive and supportive we have to teach children that.


Who is your role model?

I don’t have just one, I have worked with, known in my personal life and still continue to meet role models all the time. There are so many inspirational people doing so many amazing things that choosing one is difficult.