Category Archives: News

Passus sum jam

The row raging this week over whether the current English Education Secretary’s idea to include Latin on the curriculum (link here) in a handful of state schools is a good one or not is interesting.

As someone who studied for a History and English degree it is fair to say both of those subjects would have benefitted from having some knowledge of Latin.

Indeed, being able to read Latin would have been very useful when studying Norman and Medieval History with a university tutor who wanted her students to understand the documents being studied in their original form.

I attended a state comprehensive school and on arriving at university one of the only Latin phrases I knew was “passus sum jam” (it’s a long story…)

This phrase was certainly true when remembering those painful lectures where we were struggling to read original documents!

But our tutor did eventually have to abandon efforts to teach us all Latin when it became clear our time needed to be spent on studying the actual history we needed to know and understand.

Happily I survived and achieved an Honours degree without being fluent in Latin. However, I could see how learning it when younger may have helped in my studies in a number of ways.

As a mother language it would have been useful when learning other languages, further developing my vocabulary or understanding poetry written throughout history for example (link here).

The only other Latin I knew as a teenager was “dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”. Of course, this great poem by Wilfred Owen – studied for O-level English – exposes the lie of the phrase by describing the sheer horror and futility of war.

And the questions I am asking myself regarding Gavin Williamson’s latest idea are:

  • Why now – what new lie is being hidden or ignored?
  • Who has he discussed this idea with – any education experts at all?
  • Where is the money being moved from in order to fund it? (Perhaps he thinks few resources will be needed and a quill and scrap of paper will suffice?)
  • How will we find enough Latin teachers?
  • And last but not least…. Why is he not listening to education experts who would tell him that now (remember the pandemic?) is NOT the time to be focussing on a gimmick to try to cover up the fact the country is being badly run by people who, on the whole, don’t think much of those of us having to rely on a state school education.

Money is in very very very short supply in education.

The cash injection needed to ensure proper recovery post-pandemic is enormous.

We need to focus on properly supporting children, young people and educators – including those with special educational needs and disabilities who always get sidelined – to help them come through the pandemic with minimal impact.

And to have any chance of achieving this then sufficient money needs to be spent on ensuring the correct help and resources are in place.

I have absolutely no problem at all with teaching Latin in state schools. But now really is NOT the time to be solving a problem we don’t have.

The headline of this blog – translated as “I have suffered” sums up what we have all been through this last 18 months.

The Government needs to focus on what is needed right NOW in our schools and colleges not to be wasting precious time fiddling while Rome burns.

Getting the measure of better mental health

Here’s a recent article I wrote which was published in “Lead” – the magazine for NEU leadership members – in July 2021.

Vice-chair of the NEU’s National Leadership Council Josie Whiteley talks about being a coach for the School Mental Health Award.

In the past 16 months, leaders have demonstrated incredible resilience and adaptability. But, as we recover from the Covid crisis, is your school or college now in a better or a worse place from a wellbeing perspective?

The School Mental Health Award (SMHA) may help you find out.  

Since it was launched in 2017, more than 1,000 schools have either gained or are working towards it. It is based on a framework of eight competencies allowing schools to evaluate their mental health practices, identify gaps, and introduce or strengthen existing policies and initiatives.

They include: leadership and strategy, structure, support and culture for staff and pupils, CPD and working with families. A bronze, silver or gold award is given upon successful completion. For bronze, schools need to show how changes have made an impact in the school. For gold, there will need to be evidence that a school is sharing good practice nationally.

I’ve been an SMHA coach since April 2020 and work with more than 70 schools (and rising).

I’ve heard from leaders about the different ways of working to support mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic. This includes regular check-in phone calls, food delivery programmes, virtual meetings and information sessions for parents.

In many cases these changes have led to better relationships with pupils, parents and colleagues. Working towards the SMHA, with help from a coach, supports leaders in thinking through how these changes can become embedded – and they are very keen to do this.

An increasing number of schools are, for example, creating an area of their website dedicated to supporting parents’ mental health. Many others are updating mental health and wellbeing and behaviour policies in response to the pandemic.

So, what’s my role?

Starting with a one-hour, virtual coaching conversation, usually with the head or deputy and the mental health lead, I pose a series of questions.

A key one is: how does the SLT know what staff need?

If I’m met with a perplexed look, this then leads to a discussion of the value of asking people what they need rather than imposing ‘a relaxing, de-stressing yoga session’ that will be someone’s worst nightmare.

After the coaching conversation, I’m available via email or schools can book another meeting. Most choose not to, though, because the probing questions in the first meeting have usually inspired clarity of thought, and often a few lightbulb moments.  

As a coach, I’ve been discussing some common themes with schools. The extra workload generated by the pandemic has been a strain for staff. For those in secondaries the responsibility this summer for grading – handed to them at short notice, with little Government guidance and no additional help – has piled on pressure.

Leaders understand this and have cut back in areas including non-vital meetings, duplication of data and email overload. Some schools have introduced a “buddy” scheme to encourage colleagues to support one another, others are offering free counselling services.

Another recurring theme is the need to develop governors’ understanding of mental health issues among staff and students. In many cases, schools don’t realise this is needed until they start the award. Training for governors is especially important now, when poor mental health has increased because of the pandemic.

Once the school begins working towards the award, ongoing support is available via a private Facebook group for mental health leads, where they ask questions and share good practice and resources. A year later we have a final meeting. We discuss and celebrate the school’s journey. I love seeing how proud staff are to present their evidence for the award, and to hear them talk with real enthusiasm about the impact of changes.

To find out more, please contact Josie on: Josie.Whiteley@neu.org.uk

You can find out more about the School Mental Health Award here and, if you are interested, you can sign up for it via this email address: schoolmh@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

© Copyright Josie Whiteley 2021. All rights reserved.

Upskilling your way to success

I’ve just written a piece about self-development for members of Think Tree Hub Professional Association (where my online courses are hosted).

I thought it was worth sharing to a wider audience so here it is… 😊

The start of Spring is an excellent time to think about new things. As the days get longer and we enjoy more sunlight and the colour of the beautiful Spring flowers, many of us will be feeling more enthusiastic and energised.

What better time to learn something new?

Especially when the last 12 months have been such a struggle for millions of people, many of whom have been forced to adopt ways of living and working they would never have chosen.

Finding an inner strength and resilience they never knew they had might be one positive to take from these turbulent times. And another positive might be understanding that to survive we need to adapt – to learn and to change.

Change is often difficult for a whole host of reasons, especially when it is viewed negatively and this creates both fear of, and resistance to it. But if you can change your mindset to see the positives in change then it can result in an exciting, learning journey rather than a frightening threat.

On-going training and development grows in importance as changes in the world and the workplace happen increasingly quickly. And if you can’t keep up you may well find you’ve fallen too far behind whether you’re employed by a massive company or working as a sole trader or small business.

Having spent most of my career working in education my preferred description for this ongoing journey is “Lifelong Learning” and it is something which can be too easily forgotten about, undervalued or believed to be unnecessary.

In a conversation with a family member recently I explained I had missed their earlier phone call as I was “Zooming” doing some further training in NLP. “You were doing a legal updating course last time I called,” she said, “don’t you ever stop studying?” The answer to that is most definitely “No”!

Perhaps you don’t enjoy studying as I do, and you may be wondering why you should take time to develop your own learning in such a busy world?

The simple answer is because the impact can be so significant, for you, your teams and for your customers.

For YOU: Lifelong learning leads to personal fulfilment, career advancement and business success. Keeping your brain active (with positive things) boosts both mental and physical health.

It can help you stay at “the top of your game” and will certainly help you avoid boredom leading to a lack of motivation. Personal upskilling includes keeping ahead of changes in your industry of course but, perhaps more importantly, looking after and supporting your personal growth and your health and wellbeing.

Do you ever allow yourself time to think about why you actually do what you do? Why is it important? Do you enjoy your work and does it fit into the kind of life you want? Are you able to live and work your values, in fact what are your values and beliefs and how do they affect you every single day?

Do you work so many hours that you believe you have no time for learning and wonder how others manage to find the time and space in their busy schedules? Are you a martyr to your work and no longer able to identify how you could be putting your health and indeed your business at risk?

Do you ever ponder these kinds of questions or do they get lost in the “bus-i-ness” of every day?

For your TEAM: Your interest in their development and training can boost morale making them feel important and needed. Encouraging your team to value their own lifelong learning helps them understand its importance. Keeping up-to-date with the latest changes in your industry brings benefits to them and, of course, to your customers.

Investment in helping staff to understand the importance of both physical and mental wellbeing, and actually encouraging them to put this learning into practice, also reaps benefits.

Staff turnover and sickness absence are lower when staff are happy and as well as being cost-effective this can create some stability for your business in this increasingly unstable world. It also makes your company attractive as a place of work.

One of the areas where I offer training relates to ethical leadership of self and others (I’m a little bit obsessed about its importance to be honest!) and I’ve also recently been involved in delivering 1-1 coaching with employed professionals.

It has been fascinating to hear how different approaches by their bosses have such a significant effect on all aspects of their lives in the workplace. And the “feel-good” factor – created by positive experiences where line managers understand the real value of their staff teams and treat them accordingly – really is priceless.

From my experience of years of discussing with others what they need to ensure good wellbeing at work, the following key areas stand out as being vitally important:

  • Having time to do the job properly;
  • Having the correct tools/expertise/training to do a good job;
  • Consistency in “rules” and treatment of all staff;
  • Being listened to and being heard;
  • Feeling respected and valued.

So, if any of you have team members who seem to be unhappy in their role, consider how you respond to the five points above…  and whether you need to change your behaviours.

If you feel there are areas where you could benefit from upskilling, my latest online course may be of interest covering the importance of ongoing self-development to support being a great boss.

You can access “Make Self-Development Your Superpower” here – and my previous blog gives you a little more information about the course if you would like to know more.

I do hope my thoughts encourage you to ask yourself some questions about your own lifelong learning and that of your teams. I wanted to close with a quote I love which is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. It seems to me to be solid advice:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever”.

What more is there to say?

To find out more about Think Tree Hub click here.

© Copyright Josie Whiteley 2021. All rights reserved.

New Year, New Superpower!

As 2020 draws to a close I thought I’d wish all of you reading this the very best for 2021 and I hope you, your family and friends are managing to keep safe and well during these worrying times.

A new year seems as good a time as any to tell you about my latest online course as so many people look around for new areas of interest to pursue at this time of year.

And it may just be of value to you 😊

“Make Self-Development Your Superpower” highlights the benefits of improving your self-development skills. It asks you to take the time for self-reflection and encourages improved self-awareness using the principles of ethical leadership which – as most of my blog readers will know – is one of my very favourite subjects!

By the time you have finished this short course you will:

  • Understand the importance of continual self-development;
  • Understand the basics of ethical leadership and how the principles provide a benchmark of behaviour;
  • Have considered your personal values – what are they, where do they come from and why do they matter?
  • Understand the kinds of personal qualities required to allow you to live and work in an ethical way becoming your “best self”;
  • Understand the impact of your behaviours on all those around you;
  • Have identified your own individual areas for development and created a personal Action Plan to help you to progress on your self-development journey.

Over the last 35 years I’ve worked as a Coach and Mentor, Educational Consultant, Journalist, Lecturer, University External Examiner, Standards Verifier, College Course Leader, Head of Department and Director of a large college faculty. I’ve also learned a lot from various charity and voluntary roles I’ve been involved in.

The course draws on what (I hope!) I’ve learned during that time and I believe would be of benefit to anyone wanting to work towards “leading their best life”.

Comments describe the course as:

“thought-provoking… encourages self-reflection… delivered in a non-judgemental manner… very easy to navigate… allowed you to work through at your own paceflowed very well and was really informative… accessible allowing easy downloading of the modules… inspiring and it encouraged me to look at small ways in which I can lead a more ethical life generally… really helpful featuring great little videos where you came across as very natural, friendly, caring, honest and knowledgeable”.

Why not have a look at it and develop a new Superpower for the New Year? Sign up with a special welcome rate of 50% discount using code TTHJAW21 – (you don’t need to be a ThinkTree member to access the course, just click this link).

Happy New Year!

Josie 😊

Christmas Cheer

As 2020 draws to a close who could have imagined what a year we would have all been through?

As we hope and pray for a vaccine, which can protect us from the Coronavirus, all who normally celebrate Christmas will need to enjoy it in a different way this year.

Compassion goes a long way in difficult times and this year I intend to spend some quiet time thinking about the millions of people across our precious planet who have lost family and friends this year.

It’s not the Christmas I imagined but I’m lucky to be able to enjoy the cut-down version with an elderly relative in my “support bubble” who will be enduring my “meals-on-wheels” Christmas lunch delivery!

I hope whatever you are doing that you are safe and not feeling lonely. If you are alone and you use Twitter, the #JoinIn hashtag is back this year – for its 10th year – for those needing some company.

Thank you so much to all JAW clients, new and old, who have supported me this year. I hope to see you again next year 🙂

I am posting the links below in case any are of interest or are needed.

Listen to comedian Sarah Millican talk about the #JoinIn hashtag here.

Help the Salvation Army support the vulnerable in our communities here.

Whatever you might be struggling with this Christmas you can speak to The Samaritans free on 116123 at any time of the day or night. For more information or to donate to the Samaritans please click here.

The Power of being an Ethical Boss

I’m really pleased to be running this FREE virtual masterclass hosted by Talent United on Friday 20 November, 9.30am – 11.30am.

You might wonder whether you can afford to run an ethical business. This masterclass asks the question: “Can you afford not to?”

2020 has been a hugely difficult year for many businesses and flexibility and innovation have been critical to survival, but have you remembered to look after your most precious assets along the way? Whatever business you are in, how you behave affects everyone around you, particularly your staff members. Find out how you can make sure that your impact is a positive one.

This session is a great introduction to ethical leadership and management and this masterclass will highlight the difference it can make to you, your team and your customers. The session will answer these important questions:

· What is ethical leadership?

· How do you know when you are doing it?

· What are the benefits?

This masterclass will be presented online. Please register here as places are limited and we will send you joining instructions.

Are you an ally of #BlackLivesMatter?

When I woke up today I did not think I’d be writing this blog.

It’s the weekend of the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival in Dorset, UK, and due to Covid-19 it has gone digital this year, so I intended to spend the day joining in online.

Of course the Festival commemorates six men, who formed a trade union in 1834 to protest about their poor pay, and who were sentenced to seven years’ transportation to Australia. Their story is here.

Some of the weekend’s sessions are covering the importance of equality, education and human rights – all areas of huge interest to me.

So, I logged on to my social media accounts and noted that today was #MandelaDay2020. Two more events then focussed my mind on the #BlackLivesMatter movement in particular.

I discovered that in the last 24 hours two civil rights icons had died in the US after spending their whole lives fighting injustice and inequality.

Congressman John Lewis and The Rev C T Vivian.

Read about them, their lives are remarkable.

If you don’t want to read about them then watch a film such as “Selma”. They were there in the frontline being beaten and bloodied. John Lewis suffered a fractured skull whilst peacefully protesting and the Rev C T Vivian was punched in the face by the Sheriff.

Now I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert on racism but I do try to be informed and I want to be part of the solution not part of the problem.

One of the things that has happened for me since the killing of George Floyd in the US on May 25th is that I have understood the importance of not just “not being a racist” but the importance of being anti-racist and being an ally in the fight for equality.

I have seen some real anger on social media about the Black Lives Matter movement by white people exclaiming that All Lives Matter.

Of course they do. But this argument is based around a simple misunderstanding because no BLM advocate is saying only black lives matter or that black lives matter more. Whilst some of those arguing are doing so intentionally to be inflammatory I do believe that many just don’t “get it”.

And they don’t “get it” because they prefer an easy life, a life of white privilege. They choose to remain uninformed, make no effort to understand where the movement has come from and why it was, and still is, so necessary.

I know some people on social media who share racist memes. These are often obvious but are sometimes really quite subtle and are nearly always created by far-right racists.

When I spot it I challenge politely and ask them why they have posted it.

I then attempt to explain why what they have posted is racist/unacceptable/inflammatory/incorrect and sometimes they are horrified and remove the offending post.

Usually though my comments are ignored.

Either way I am unsure if they have really engaged in the conversation and whether their future behaviour will change.

But today, in 2020, I have a moral obligation to speak out. And if you are reading this and are white then so do you.

I understand that white people are sometimes nervous to speak out because they are concerned they might say the wrong thing. But it has to be far better to speak out, be corrected and learn from that than to try to ignore institutional and systemic racism and just post another photograph of your evening meal on Facebook.

So, I decided to write this blog to share a few useful links. It will then always be available to me to share on racist Facebook posts which need to be challenged.

Please feel free to share this link if you want to help others understand why we cannot just say “All Lives Matter” until the day that “Black Lives Matter” to the same degree.

USEFUL LINKS:

Watch the trailor for Selma here.

George Floyd information here.

A brief history of racism.

An excellent explanation of racism using sexism as the example.

Can white people experience racism?

Do I need to be actively anti-racist?

How to overcome tribalism and help the human race.

Kindness really does matter

As annual #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek draws to a close I think it is going to be particularly important this year to remember its key message of #KindnessMatters.

All over the world millions of people have been enduring an unprecedented time during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lives and families torn apart in this way is something most of us have probably never imagined. Lives lost, businesses lost, jobs lost, all sources of income lost, our “normal” ways of living lost.

As the world comes through this pandemic – which it will – we have to make some changes, to create a new “normal” which acknowledges what really matters in our lives.

In my view living in a more ethical and sustainable way is something we will all need to do.

So what have we discovered about life during these last few stressful weeks and months?

What have we missed the most – a hug? Seeing people we love? Being free to go where we want when we want? Have we realised that people matter more than things? Have we realised that we can live with less?

I do hope that people will be prepared to reconsider what their personal priorities are and what matters to them.

This could be the best opportunity in your lifetime to make changes to what you do and how you do it and to bring your actions in life more in step with your values and beliefs.

I recorded a free webinar last week asking how we could lead well in difficult times of change.

Whatever your business, whatever your job role, good leadership can truly make a difference in difficult times and good self-leadership in particular can empower you to make changes, be kind to yourself, your team, your customers and the planet.

Please do access it here:

How do I lead well in a time of change?

Webinar Wisdom!

If you are interested in leading well and making wise decisions during a time of enormous change, then please do join me on this free webinar.

It is on Wednesday May 20th at 1.00pm and is accessible for anyone who might be interested. As it’s a webinar no-one will be able to see you, so pyjamas are completely acceptable!

You may be self-employed, run a small business or be a manager in a larger company. Your job title does not really matter – if you feel you would benefit from a little support regarding how to manage your way during this difficult time then please do sign up.

We all need good leadership skills now more than ever – even if we only have ourselves to lead! And although we are all in different boats, we are in the same storm.

Change is always difficult, but compassion and communication can help you to weather that storm.

Please do feel free to share this link with others who may be interested 🙂

Register via ThinkTreeHub here.

Be Your Best Boss – Join us on Facebook!

I’ve had a busy few days.

In between enjoying the sunshine and sewing scrubs bags for NHS and other key workers I’ve also been working on creating a brand new Facebook group.

It’s called “Be Your Best Boss” and is intended to be a safe and welcoming place for anyone who is interested in the concept of ethical leadership. There should certainly be lots to discuss!

If you have attended one of my workshops, or undertaken my online course in Ethical Leadership Principles, then this is a good place to continue interacting with like-minded individuals.

But you don’t need to have attended a course to be part of the group where we will be sharing top tips and learning from each others’ experiences.

It’s suitable for anybody interested in being a great boss, whatever stage of your career you are at. Aspiring managers and leaders are more than welcome.

Please request to join the group by searching for JAWBeYourBestBoss on Facebook.

See you soon!