Who likes a podcast?

Over the last year I have been lucky enough to be interviewed on not one, but two podcasts! I am not generally someone who listens to podcasts, I prefer to listen to music and then watch interviews, but when I was asked by Mike and Arthur from TandTeaching I just couldn’t say no! They are two lovely people and it was so friendly and really just like chatting in a staff room with a cuppa! Despite being interviewed back in October, I am really proud that Mike and Art keep letting me know that my podcast is in their top 5 most listened to. And that makes me very proud, as there are some amazing and fabulous people who they have interviewed! You can find TandTeaching here on Spotify, but they are available pretty much wherever people listen!

Back in March I was then interviewed by Alison from Above and Beyond Education, for her #FlyingHigh podcast, where she talks to people about what brings them #Joy! What a great subject, and so I got to talk about, not only what I love doing, but also what is bringing me so much joy at the moment. (Which is being part of 365SEND).

I am now thinking about other podcasts or video chats I could do, I wonder if this is a new strand for the Purplemoon Website?

A whole week ‘Off’!

A whole week ‘Off’!

Posted on June 9, 2021

I managed a whole week ‘off’ work!

This is one of those blogs where it might appear I am showing off, because I managed to have a week where I did no work. This is actually a blog where I am thinking about how I managed to do it, how it felt and musings on how this might help you to do the same!

The week before my week off I spent some time scheduling my social media, ensuring that my ‘out of office’ email was ready to go and forewarning people that I was going to have the half term week off, and that I actually meant it! I stuck to my principle and did not download the app which would enable me to see my emails on my phone and I discussed with my partner how we both really meant it, no work for a week. This prep work I think did help me mentally prepare for the notion of a week off.

Where we were going also helped, it was the far north of Scotland where the 4G signal was spotty or non-existent. The hotel had limited wifi in some areas, so yes, I did pop onto social media a couple of times but not for ‘work’ but to share a couple of photos of the wonderful vista and let friends and family know what we were doing (and to see how they were spending their time!)

 Both laptops of mine and my partner were put into the bottom of the wardrobe and hidden by the spare blankets (from our eyes more than anyone elses). We did decide we wanted to take them ‘just in case’ but this was more so that we had them and could forget about them than to actually use them. Having them out of sight did put them out of mind!

Interestingly when I was a headteacher and in Portugal I still felt the need to constantly connect to wifi and check emails/messages. I wonder what has changed? -One thing I do know is that I was way too accessible (told people I would be regularly checking in) and with work accounts on my phone it was way too easy to do that ‘quick check in’.

Also, one person in our wider family group felt the need to do about an hour of work every day, and would go back into an area where there was signal to check her phone regularly. When I realised that she was doing this, I had a quick internal check in, did this make me anxious, did it make me want to do the same? The answer was categorically no! What I actually felt was sympathy for her that she felt she had to do this, but she felt that this was a compromise for her to have some ‘time off’ balanced into maintaining her workload. For me, I was confident that my prep work the week before and what was in my calendar for the week after was solid. However, when she was ‘off’ she really was off and none of us really talked ‘shop’ about any of our work (very diverse group) as there were so many other interesting things to chat about!

On reflection I know I’m in a much better place in how I prioritise and think about my emotional and mental health. My umbrella is strong and well maintained. This doesn’t mean that I don’t feel stressed or anxious at times, it means that I am better equipped to notice, check in with myself and do something about it. Would this have been possible as a member of SLT? Yes, I do believe so, if I had my umbrella and my boundaries and better self-awareness, (also the support of organisations such as the amazing HeadsUp4HTs).

I will admit that we returned on Friday (this had always been the plan) so that if anything major had happened work wise (for either myself or my partner) we had the weekend to check emails, phones, calendar and plan for this week. However, we spent most of the weekend with family in the sunshine in a garden, watching F1 and continuing our relaxing and recharging as we transitioned back into work mode for Monday.

Having a transitioning back into work time/space also helped, I think coming back later would have meant we had placed way too much pressure on finishing holiday (and doing the boring shopping/washing/prep) and going to work (setting alarm and feeling mental prepared) and I am becoming a fan on the transition in and the transition out. We had 6 solid days of holiday, true time off, much better than 7-10 days of ‘holiday’ but where work is done for an hour or so a day whilst on holiday. You may disagree, but however you plan your holidays, plan to be truly ‘off’, and then follow through and celebrate when you manage it!


But what is it you do?

But what is it you do?

Posted on March 3, 2021

What do I do? Here is a video explaining what I do.


The power of Listening, and being Heard (Thank you NHS)

The power of Listening, and being Heard (Thank you NHS)

Posted on February 27, 2021

The power of listening, and of being heard!

The last two weeks I have been on a bit of a journey with the NHS. Challenging during the lockdown, but ultimately a positive experience and I have been well cared for all the way through. It got me thinking again about listening, about being heard, but then also the ‘so what/what next’ stage.

From the 15th to 24th February, I had 4 appointments over the phone with photos shared with the GP. They were great and attempted to fix me. This also included a virtual walk in session over video at the weekend. On the fourth appointment the GP response was ‘you need to go to A&E.’ Our treatment isn’t working, this may need intervention.

So my partner drops me at A&E, I am triaged. However, I need to go to Huddersfield as that is where the SAU unit is and I am in Halifax. They are apologetic, can I get there myself or do I need transport? My partner is called and dutifully he taxis me over.

When I enter SAU in Huddersfield, my name and info is already on the board. they were expecting me. A nurse comes and does my observations and I sit.

I am then taken to a room, a lovely doctor has a brief look and touch, and then agrees it is an abscess and it is looking nasty and it needs to be drained, today. It is now 2:45pm. They are going to put me on the list, find me a bed and get it sorted. He goes through the pro’s and cons of local v general anaesthetic, I vote for General, he smiles, a little relieved, I think that is the right choice he says, before running through the risks again. He runs through my medical history and allergies again and then says he’ll find out timing. At this point I message my partner, I need my glasses, as I had put in my contacts before leaving the house. The doctor comes back, good news he says, we will have a bed for you, we can do this today. Not so good news, I am on a waiting list so will not go down for a few hours yet, that greatly increases the chances of staying overnight. I ask if my partner can bring a bag and my glasses, he says absolutely, he can drop them off (He can’t come in though). Instructions dispatched to partner and I get in my gown.

At this point I am impressed by the speed, efficiency and organisation. I am also incredibly impressed by the level of care and compassion shown. The staff are getting on and doing their job but also listening and noticing and responding. I am feeling safe and ok.

My bag is dropped and brought to me by a nurse, we have a little giggle as my partner had got a little lost on the way!

I am taken to ward 1 as the bed is ready. New staff, same level of compassion and care despite the fact they are obviously busy. People pop by to see me, to check on me, my allergies, my history. To give me the heads up on timing and the fact that it will be shift change so the people talking to me now about the operation will not be the ones doing it. (A nice touch).

I go down bang on 8pm, as they said I would, having a nice  little chat as we go about  nothing in particular. COVID has not been mentioned at all, apart from when they apologised as I had to do a test. It is hovering around us though, with the masks and the distancing where possible and the endless hand sanitisers around the place.

Into theatre. They realise there is no cannula in. I apologise, I have very awkward deep veins and after they had trouble getting blood in Halifax A&E decisions had been made to leave it to the ‘experts’ in theatre to do it when needed. I can sense a few wry and cheerful smiles even with the masks, not to worry we’ll sort it they say. I inform them of the best site, and reassure them that I won’t feint or vomit or anything and then there are four of them trying to get the blasted thing in me and reassuring me at the same time. Calm heads, soothing voices, determination and some local anaesthetic so they could adjust it works. It is in and I am falling asleep.

I wake up. Dry mouth, very dry mouth, they have water ready to sip. Cheerful voices again welcoming me back. Success they tell me. So I’m heading back to the ward. I am brought toast, the best toast ever, and a lovely proper cup of tea. I know I am going to get very little sleep, this is ok with me, I read, they pop in doing observations on me and my fellow patient in the bed next door. The night ebbs and flows, although they are clearly being quiet there is still noise. At one point I hear gentle laughter from the nurses station. It is a strangely reassuring sound. Amongst all the bustling and work and difficulties in the current situation there is clearly camaraderie and team work on this ward. I like it.

From 7am things get more bustling, a very cheerful loud fun support worker comes in and announces it is breakfast time and what do we fancy? He also tells us he likes our bay as it is cool (we had the window open all night!) We get introduced to the day staff as shift change has occurred again. The doctor comes to see me. Very happy, I can go home! The nurse will just change my dressing and do my paperwork and remove my cannula and then I can go.

I message my partner excited. I am coming home! ‘How soon?’ he asks. I’m not entirely sure, but this morning. (I am aware that sometimes discharge can take time!) The nurse comes in, right lets get you sorted she says. She is going to discharge me now! I am crazy excited, she smiles. I apologise, she says there’s no need, it is good to send patients home happy and feeling ok. She does what she needs to do quickly, efficiently and with compassion and then I’m in my clothes and go meet my partner at the entrance. I am home by 9:30am.

Our NHS is amazing. I am proud to be in a country that has such a service. But mostly this last two weeks I have been truly struck at how all that I have come in contact with have listened, really listened despite the current situation and restrictions, and got me the care and outcome I needed. I can not say it loud enough, thank you to the staff at my GP’s, the walk in centre and in particular the amazing wonderful staff at SAU and Ward 1 of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. I spoke, you listened, you cared and you healed me.

How I got to here

How I got to here

Posted on January 2, 2021

I knew I would be working in education, probably as a teacher, from the age of 3 after starting nursery. (My dad oft tells of his visit to pick me up as a surprise and the teacher asked him not to go in yet as I was ‘reading’ to a group of friends on the carpet with the staff quietly tidying up around me!)

This ambition stayed with me all the way through my primary and secondary school life, and whilst completing my A Levels I was often found as a volunteer in the EYFS/Y1 classes of the local primary school. However, I did not want to complete a BEd and go straight from school to university to school (as a teacher). Instead I opted for a four year BA(Hons) in American Studies, completing my third year in a university in upstate New York. (what an amazing experience that I still cherish).  Then on competition of this degree I took a year ‘off’ from education, instead working in a range of settings to ensure that teaching really was where I wanted to be (it was!). I then completed my PGCE at the University of Hertfordshire, with a specialism in EYFS so that my qualification covers 3 year olds to 11 year olds.

I was now a teacher, and loving it! I spent three years in a two form entry primary school with a nursery in Bishops Stortford and then decided to leave ‘the south’ and go to wonderful Yorkshire, landing in Sheffield. After a term of supply teaching I started a very fruitful and enjoyable stint in a two form entry primary with nursery on the outskirts of the city. Here I discovered that although I love being in the classroom, I wanted to do more for the children and my colleagues. I became the safeguarding Lead (then called the Child Protection Lead Teacher) and a year later became the SENDCo. I loved the collaboration, the learning, the achievements and the sheer unexpectedness of what these dual roles brought into my life. However, I did not enjoy the stress, the frustrations, the anxiety of the wait for support for children, or sharing the strain of the struggles of the families and the sheer weight of paperwork.

I then took all of this experience and in 2011 became a deputy head for a school in a deprived area of Barnsley. This was a ‘non-teaching’ role and I remained the lead for safeguarding, SEND and disadvantaged children. I thought that I would find fully stepping out of the classroom hard, but instead I discovered that supporting families and developing and supporting the teachers and support staff within the school incredibly rewarding. I continued to collaborate in new ways, with play therapists, other leaders, other agencies and also had the opportunity to sit on the safeguarding board that was formed in Barnsley after a disappointing LA Ofsted inspection.

In 2014 I relocated to West Yorkshire, and became the non-teaching Deputy Head of a school in Oldham. Again, I was the lead for safeguarding, SEND, disadvantaged children and I also line-managed the support staff, creating a performance management cycle for them that mirrored the teachers and enabled them to share their strengths and to support the development of their areas of need.

I became actively involved in the SEND hub, the local collab of leaders, and the Behaviour and Attendance Hub within the local authority. In these Hubs and collabs I was involved in creating model policies, guidance and toolkits for staff in primary schools. I worked with colleagues from other schools and agencies and regularly discussed the need for coaching and supervision within educational settings to support the wellbeing of staff, to increase retention and ensure that staff were being fully supported to be the best they could be in the classroom.

In 2017 I became the head of the school. I set about revitalising the curriculum, embedding coaching through my performance management methods and trying to ensure that the school was a happy and healthy place for the children, staff and community.

This year I made the decision to leave my role as headteacher and I want to continue my journey to change the culture within education to ensure that all staff have a safe and healthy place to work, that they are valued, celebrated and supported and that the process of supervision, which is common in health and social care, becomes a cornerstone of practice for education settings.  Coaching and supervision has a direct positive impact on wellbeing, retention, absence management and classroom practice and I truly love delivering it!