A practical difference – Case Study

“I would not hesitate recommending this programme. In fact my deputy is already signed up!”

Nick Page has been head of Beaconside School in Penrith for 18 months. Within that time he’s already led a round of redundancies, addressed attendance problems and adopted a new recruitment strategy. Tackling such business challenges requires the right strategic approach to delivering change – and you can’t do that without building and protecting your own confidence and wellbeing.

We spoke to Nick about his experiences on The Practical Manager programme and explored the difference it has made to him and his school.

TDE_009_Blog Headers4.png

What made you sign up to the Practical Manager programme?

“It was referred to me by another head. I think what made me take notice was that both facilitators have a commercial background, which gives this programme a strong business angle and real world perspective. I had attended lots of courses previously, of course – every head has - but it’s been more a case of dipping in and out and I’d certainly not been part of a longer term programme such as this.”

Nick appreciates the format of the course, “which itself brings huge benefits and is something I look forward to each month. The chance to spend time with other likeminded heads and share stories is so valuable.”

Which elements/modules of the course proved most beneficial?

“You build a portfolio of excellent, practical tips that you can easily take back into the school environment. Whilst I’ve been on the programme we’ve run a redundancy exercise and I’ve carried out a number of performance development reviews. The tips and techniques I’m bringing back from the course have given me the confidence to manage situations and feel confident that I’m making the right choices.”

Given his most recent challenges, Nick is grateful for the advice that comes as part and parcel of the programme. “Barbara and Martin, of the Driven Employee are also always on hand to offer support – even outside of the programme days. Their advice adds even greater value and has been extremely useful.”

Can you give an example of how you have applied learning from the programme?

“Developing my ability to present with impact has made a big difference. I’ve implemented the strategies and techniques I’ve learned in school and with my team, and I’m seeing others adopt the same approach so it’s filtering through the school. I’ve also discovered the value of talking in terms of numbers rather than percentages during appraisals. It’s made reviews feel far more personal and real.”

Always keen to search for other views and opinions, Nick doesn’t simply take what the course presents and accept it at face value. He likes to take a concept from the programme and read round it, delving deeper into the theory. “The course challenges my thinking, but I really like the fact that it’s flexible enough for me to take away what I want and leave what I don’t.”

Can you think of a specific example where an outcome has been improved because of what you learned on the Practical Manager programme?

“It’s always good to discover a new technique that makes approaching something simpler or more effective. If we use appraisals as an example, the course has given me a new approach to managing difficult conversations and setting targets:

  1. Stop – what do we want you to stop doing?

  2. Start – what do we want you to start doing?

  3. Continue – what do we want you to continue to do?

It’s an approach that has made teacher appraisals more effective, but we’re also starting to use it with pupils too.”

Whilst other factors have played a part, Nick also attributes some of the reduction in staff absence to techniques explored on the course. “This academic year attendance is 96%. In the past it has never been above 94%.”

Another outcome of Nick’s experience on the course is a change in his approach to recruitment. “The senior team and I will now be focussed not only on recruiting the right people, but on training the wider team to reach certain competencies. We’re shifting from recruiting for the job today to recruiting for potential, scoping out a plan for the right person, and then implementing a plan to develop them further.”

A key element of the Practical Manager programme is about building confidence. Have you seen your confidence improve?

“Very much so,” says Nick, although he places even greater emphasis on an effect he didn’t see coming: “The sense of wellbeing the course gives you is an added bonus I really didn’t anticipate at the start of the programme.”

The knock-on effect of that has been profound, he says, resulting in a more a confident leader and a shift in culture for the whole school.

In what ways would you say the Practical Manager programme has made you a better manager? 

“I’ve really not been on a course like this before. I’ve found its length, the continuity you develop and the powerful relationships you build with other heads means the programme works so much better than one-offs. The follow-up guides and blogs that Barbara and Martin send over are valuable too.

“I’d say the programme has made me more thoughtful, more conscious of what my school needs and what I need to do as a leader to deliver that. It’s given me greater confidence to tackle business challenges and some of the HR challenges we have seen here.

“The programme has boosted my confidence which in turn has improved my wellbeing and I believe I and the school are seeing the knock-on effects of that. I’m definitely less anxious in handling difficult situations now, because I know I have the strategies to deal with them.

“I would not hesitate recommending this programme. In fact my deputy is already signed up!”

The Driven Employee’s Effective Leadership and Management package includes:

  • One place on The Practical Manager progamme - a 12-month modular programme combining six people management topics and six CPD modules to enhance your ability to ‘manage’

  • A one day Leadership workshop for your management team (or 2 x half days training/ coaching as required)

  • Managing Absence Toolkit – staff absence (especially short term) can be costly and disruptive to schools. The toolkit helps you identify key triggers so you can manage and reduce absence levels and ensure compliance with your policy

Includes free HR consultancy (reasonable use applies)

Payable in one annual instalment of £3999 + VAT

To find out more about the Effective Leadership and Management package, click here and to talk to us, contact Barbara Craig at The Driven Employee on 07824 466 430 or barbara@drivenemployee.co.uk