1st Edition

Sustaining Depth and Meaning in School Leadership Keeping Your Head

Edited By Emil Jackson, Andrea Berkeley Copyright 2020
    378 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    378 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Sustaining Depth and Meaning in School Leadership: Keeping Your Head concerns the emotional and psychological experience of school leadership—in particular, the felt experience of life as a headteacher. It describes the pressures and rewards of the role, together with some of the ways that school leaders successfully sustain and develop themselves and their teams in what has become an increasingly complex, challenging, and highly accountable role.

    This book explores the personal experience of leading schools. Part I provides an overview and analysis of current and historical trends in school leadership and offers some theoretical frameworks for making sense of these. Part II then offers psychodynamic approaches to supporting and developing school leaders and the impact that trends in executive education continue to have on this. Part III looks at approaches to school leadership development more generally, including team development; influences from the business world; the growth of mentoring and coaching as a leadership intervention; the design and evaluation of leadership development programmes; and a case study on whole-system development. The final word is given to ten serving headteachers and deputies and their leadership journeys. This range of chapters, concepts, and perspectives will support school leaders to maintain an emotional equilibrium while navigating the multilayered tightrope of intrapsychic, interpersonal, and organizational dynamics inherent in school life.

    Rooted in Jackson and Berkeley’s belief that school leaders are likely to be at their best when they find their own unique and authentic way of taking up their leadership role, this book is an accessible, supportive, and developmental contribution for all those involved in education leadership.


    Andrea Berkeley and Emil Jackson



    1 Keeping your head: the unspoken realities of headship

    Andrea Berkeley

    2 The context and challenges of contemporary school leadership

    Peter Early and Toby Greany

    3 Emotional factors in leading teaching and learning

    Biddy Youell

    4 Individual, group and organisational dynamics: a theoretical overview

    Judith Bell



    5 Executive coaching for the hidden realities of life as a school leader

    Emil Jackson and Andrea Berkeley

    6 Leadership and governance: leadership pairs coaching

    Clare Huffington

    7 On the leading edge of learning: work discussion groups for headteachers

    Emil Jackson and Andrea Berkeley

    8 Learning leadership: lessons from the top

    Ben Bryant



    9 The impact of personality preferences on school leadership

    Emil Jackson

    10 Developing leaders: lessons from the business world

    Barry Speirs and Andrea Berkeley

    11 Creating coaching cultures in schools

    Chris Munro, Margaret Barr, & Christian van Nieuwerburgh

    12 Designing, managing and evaluating school leadership programmes

    Sarah Harrison

    13 Lessons from "The London Challenge": a whole-system approach to leadership development

    David Woods


    14 Talking heads: the voice of school leaders

    Andrea Berkeley and serving school leaders


    Emil Jackson is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, Adult Psychotherapist, and Executive Coach. His clinical and teaching base is at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, where he is Head of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy in the Adolescent and Young Adult Service. Since 2002, Emil has been involved in a wide range of coaching and consultancy across public and corporate sector organizations—from FTSE 100 companies, to global social media firms, to family businesses, to schools. Emil now works nationally and internationally with senior executives and CEOs, but he particularly values his coaching work with headteachers and senior leaders in education.


    Andrea Berkeley has worked at the leading edge of education development and reform. For 14 years, she was head of culturally diverse Preston Manor comprehensive in London, leading the school from a "Serious weaknesses" to an "Outstanding" Ofsted rating. She has worked for 13 years with various national organizations on the training and development of education leaders, including the National College for School Leadership and University College London Institute of Education, and during her six years as founding Dean of Development at Ambition School Leadership. Andrea now works as an executive coach and leadership consultant to headteachers and chief executives —particularly those working in challenging contexts—and also to senior executives in social enterprise and corporate sectors.

    "I found this book impossible to put down!  A compelling blend of well-researched theory and historical context set alongside real stories from real people from the frontline of schools and education, it offers a powerful narrative on the power of relationships to support leadership effectiveness in schools. As an absolute convert to the power of coaching, albeit later in life, this impressive book with an equally impressive set of contributors, manages to capture the reality of leading in schools, with all its highs and lows, whilst leaving you, as the reader, clearer and more optimistic about the future.  Essential reading for any school leader!"

    Andy Buck, CEO Leadership Matters

    "At a time when the educational system is in one of its regular states of crisis, and when head teachers are leaving the profession at a worrying rate, Keeping Your Head is a vital contribution to understanding leadership in schools. Writing from a sophisticated psychodynamic and systems perspective but maintaining clarity and a practical focus, the highly experienced contributors to this book offer hugely important insights into ways of managing the enormous stress of school leadership. The book will prove to be a landmark collection for those who want to understand the emotional and psychological pressures of being a school leader – and how to survive them."

    Stephen Frosh, Professor of Psychology, Birkbeck, University of London

    "This book reflects deeply on the experience of school leadership - both the highs and the lows. The authors explore the complex and varied pressures on leaders and the many means to mitigate them, with insight and humanity. I recommend this book to anyone interested in education and especially those making or implementing education policy."

    Francis Listowel, The Earl of Listowel (PhD), Officer: All Party Parliamentary Group for the Teaching Profession; Vice Chair: All Party Parliamentary Group for looked After Children and Young People and Care Leavers


    "This a great book to add to any school leader’s 'go to' pile of leadership books.  However, what makes this one stand out is that it talks to the reader and really gets to the heart of what it means to lead a school in such challenging times.  

    I read with avid interest and appreciated the current voices of school leaders reflected throughout the book.  Many chapters really resonated and confirmed the belief that remarkable people lead remarkable schools - but they are human and do also need support and guidance.   Having worked in a range of challenging schools as a senior leader and in two as headteacher, I truly value the shared experiences that are captured in this book.  

    Andrea and Emil have got under the skin of the enormity of the job, the fact that it can be an all-consuming and lonely job at times.  In doing so, they offer solutions and suggestions which I think are invaluable to current and aspiring headteachers". 

     Evelyn Forde, headteacher Copthall School

    "Everyone who knows about our schools is aware of the challenges and difficulties experienced by headteachers and other school leaders. As Keeping Your Head says, "school leaders today require higher degrees of self-awareness, emotional intelligence and political literacy than ever before." The book is in effect a manual not only for school leaders at all levels but also a range of others from school governors and inspectors to training providers. It is informed by a range of approaches from its thoroughly knowledgeable authors, including insights from the theory and practice of psychotherapy. There are numerous case studies, some of them quite emotional, and the whole work is supported by extensive research. It is hard to think of anyone needing but not yet benefitting from its advice who would fail to be helped by this book."

    Professor Robert Cassen, OBE, Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics