My Leadership Journey

by Christalla Jamil @ChristallalJ

I graduated from teaching when I was 36 years old. I have been in education for seventeen years now, nine of which have been as a headteacher. I commenced my career in teaching in a maintained primary school in Palmers Green, North London. I was a teacher with TLR2b responsibilities and Training School responsibilities. I became a Consultant Leading Teacher and an Advanced Skills Teacher whilst in my first school. I trained all NQTs in Science for the Borough of Enfield for 8 years too! This allowed me to support school improvement and develop a hunger for leadership.

I became an AHT in a Voluntary Aided C of E school for 2 years and had at least 50% teaching responsibilities as well as coaching colleagues within and outside of my borough. I trained and became and Ofsted Inspector at this stage in my career. After completing my NPQH I took on a DHT role, which instantly turned into an Acting Headteacher role. This role enabled me to apply for the Headship of my own school; a maintained primary for 480 pupils, Nursery – Y6 with an Additional Resource Provision, serving pupils with Autism and complex needs. I am currently the executive headteacher of two delightful C. of E. schools in Tottenham, Haringey in London The schools are a part of the LDBS Academies Trust-London Diocesan Board for Schools (LDBS). I am thankful that the Trust is led by a confident, successful, female CEO. Liz Wolverson leads with not only experience, but with a huge amount of passion, understanding and empathy.

Why did I become a Headteacher?

I became a teacher rather late in life, having focused on my family for the first few years of married life. I worked as an estate agent and contributed, and still do, to a variety of charities. I have always wanted to be a leader though. Initially I became the leader of my class. A variety of opportunities fell in my path and I scooped every single one up!

I have always been passionate about teaching and inspiring young people to discover the world and their place in it. At its best, quality teaching empowers children to achieve their full potential and results in citizens with a positive contribution for our global future.

Assertive

Through high expectations, the development of a growth mindset and creating a culture of responsibility and justice for the entire school community, all of this can be achieved. My goal was to foster an environment where learning is a daily adventure to be delighted in, for all pupils regardless of their needs, ethnicity, culture, religion or background and where the relationship with self, peers, the school community and wider society were held in high regard. This is what has led me ultimately to becoming a Headteacher; to make the biggest impact and to transform education and help children achieve what they want to achieve and inspire them to do things they never thought they could do.

Top Tips

In my previous setting I travelled along the successful road of RI to Good with a couple of Outstanding areas too. In order to recruit and retain I have learned how to create a culture of wellbeing; this has taken time. I have made mistakes along the way and hope that now I have finally got it right. Relationships, and getting them right, are pivotal in leadership (I think!). I love to work with people who share and understand my vision for our school. People whose performance defines ability and expertise. It is a parameter we must keep in mind to identify a leader, but look beyond performance. What I also look for is aptitude, the desire to grow, and overall potential. I look for people who make things happen, who are decision makers, who have an identity. I identify those who are accountable, even when mistakes happen. Particularly important for teachers is that they are in a ‘safe place’ where they won’t be made accountable for taking risks to innovate if they don’t pay off. They must be able to empathise and have emotional intelligence too. Communication is key, so articulation and courage is another factor. I strongly believe that values reflect ‘the way we do things’ and living them out is as applicable to all the staff as it is to all the children. Mine are about those principles or moral standards which I feel are important in life: Compassion; Perseverance; Wisdom; Forgiveness; Courage; Friendship and …having a sense of humour!

Thoughtful

Not forgetting that consistently living out both individual values and the collective values of the school requires self-control, resilience and self-regulation. Additionally, one needs to be able to recognise that we can no longer be all things to all people and to focus on the priorities which are forever relevant. As we focus on the priorities we need to be thinking more about how we can do things differently and more intelligently and to recognise when transformational thinking is required. For instance: • the emphasis on developing the whole child • ensuring consistently high -quality teaching and learning • ensuring all pupils make good or better progress • continually working at closing the gap • continually striving to build capacity and sustainability • building a culture of teamwork and collective accountability • ensuring high levels of staff satisfaction and fulfilment • strengthening partnerships

The reality

There have definitely been many highs. Working with brilliant children and great staff makes each day a good day. On a daily basis I feel a sense of achievement when children celebrate their learning, their successes. Being at the heart of two super communities makes me feel not only proud but privileged too. I serve two schools in one of the most deprived parts of my borough but you would not know this if you visit our school. Our school oozes acceptance and respect. Social justice fills the air. Creativity, drama, song, dance and music are embedded in our foundations (Covid19 permitting of course!). It’s cool to enjoy learning. We celebrate with laughter and metaphorically speaking, embrace diversity with a great big hug. Though each day is filled with celebrations and successes there are of course challenges and sometimes barriers too. Yet we are a family, where commitment and dedication give us the courage to take risks and tackle whatever comes our way effectively.

My pinned Twitter post https://twitter.com/ChristallaJ/status/1197235125081251840 has become my mantra. I could not have survived the lows and celebrated the highs without the support of my networks. There are too many individual people to list here but the main networks that have been truly supportive are: @WomenEd @WomenEdEngland @CharteredCollege @BAMEedNetwork @DisabilityEdUk @LGBTedUK @LondonSouth_TSA

My Leadership Advice

“Be authentic!” “You cannot do it alone. You need a team” “Less is more. Focus on a few things and do them well”

Favourite Leadership Quotes

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

“Be the change you want to see in the world”. -Mahatma Ghandi

“If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” ― Shirley Chisholm

 

Determined

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