It was the staff Christmas meal last night…As I rolled in to bed and my small chain crashed out of my pockets on to the floor rolling around the room, waking up my sleeping wife, I realised I was far more sober than I expected to be. I spent some time listening to the wind tossing peoples recycling boxes around the street. It then hit me…

I am really enjoying being head teacher again.

I had clarity in my vision that was very rare for 1:30 AM and even rarer for me whilst sober (ish). I could see where I needed to be, better than at any other time. My ‘new’ school felt exciting even when I could see nothing but things that needed changing. Note how it is still ‘new’ to me even after 16 months in post. This ‘new’ is a different ‘new’ though. It is no longer the ‘new’ of:

“I have no idea what you are talking about or doing”.

It is the ‘new’ of fresh, bright and shiny. It is the ‘new’ that partners ‘hope’. It is the ‘new’ that is in the callers change of tone when, “Bring out your dead” turns to “Any old iron, any old iron”. It is the ‘new’ of opportunity. Opportunity on its own is only really unfulfilled promise therefore this ‘new’ felt different for a number of reasons.

You see, I have seen nothing but issues I need to deal with this term. It is because I can see these issues though that I have so much hope for the future. Also, I have a year’s worth of experience and growing confidence to turn the issues in to solutions to problems. I can not only see the issues I can also see what we need to do to solve them – a key sea-change. This time last year I could hardly see what was before my eyes without feeling I was straying too far from the mothership. My vision quickly became fuzzy and distant. The issues seemed like mountains and I was far too knackered to even think about climbing them – never mind actually setting off with a map and a healthy packed lunch in my rucksack.

A year in school leadership is a very long time. Things that seemed insurmountable one year ago now seem like minor issues that no longer give me sleepless nights. Time is a great mover of the insurmountable. That’s why reflection and a certain determined attitude as a school leader are utterly vital. If we break every time the impossible is thrust in our faces then we would give up on the first corner far too often.

So, as I look ahead to next year I see a mountain range that towers over the landscape. It is dark, jagged and steep. As I look to the distant summit and feel slightly sick I have no idea what it will take to get me there. I can see the clouds rolling over the peaks. I wonder what the view from there looks like? There’s only one way to find out!

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