Talking Heads Blog #8: Vic Goddard

Leadership Biography

Name: Vic Goddard

Phase: Secondary

Sector: Academy

Region: East of England

Years Served in Education: 25

Years Served as a Headteacher: 9

Leadership Journey:

Second in PE – Head of PE/ Performing Arts – Assistant Head – Deputy

Leadership Coach/Mentor/Inspiration:

So many. Ernest Kingsbury (my own headteacher). Frank Jennings (my PE teacher). Mike Conboy – form tutor and English teacher throughout secondary school – Kevin Sadler (first headteacher I was in SLT with).

Twitter Handle: @vicgoddard


Leadership Reflections

Why do you teach?

I come from a family that has always valued education even though my dad left school at 14 without any qualifications he was a great advocate that we should work hard. It has led to all of my siblings (2 brothers and a sister) to become teachers. I was also taught by some great people that helped shape me.

Why did you become a leader?

I have always enjoyed leading throughout my sporting life and it felt like a natural progression for that to be a part of my professional life.

Why did you become a Headteacher?

I am the sort of person that has aspired to being the best that I can be and I always knew that this meant that I would push myself to become a headteacher as that was the job where I could have influence in a far reaching way. I didn’t know if I’d be any good at it but I always knew that I could just go back to being a classroom based teacher as I still love doing that.

Why did your role/ school appeal to you?

I met the headteacher of Passmores socially and liked him and what he was trying to achieve at Passmores. I came from a school where students did not routinely go to university – in fact many didn’t even go to school – and I always wanted to work in a school where the young people may be didn’t realise how much potential they had.

Why do you engage with grassroots and social media?

I didn’t until Educating Essex meant I needed to. Channel 4 advised me to set up Twitter/Facebook etc in my own name before anyone else did in a mischievous way! However, the challenge and support that I have received far outweighs any negative aspects. There are times when I am bored of certain topics but I have developed my ‘Twitter shrug’ to a jedi level and I just disengage. I have respect for those that are tenacious enough to keep going with ‘the argument’ but I don’t feel defined by any particular trait/philosophy enough to keep running into the same wall. Whether it is trad/prog or tech/no tech (or any other debate where some of the involvement is as much about being contrary as it is about beliefs). I don’t need to have the approval of anyone apart from the community I serve. The highlight of any social media interaction is when I learn about something that will help my CYP and it is a real high to share something that might help someone else’s.

Why do you think it is important for Headteachers to still teach?

In a nutshell I learn first-hand how ridiculous some of the things are that we expect staff to do. It allows me to truly empathise.

How do you celebrate the teaching profession?

This has been one of the major aspects of being on the TV that I hope I have maximised. I have been very lucky to be asked to present to a wide range of people involved in education and share some of the journey that I and Passmores has been on. My favourite of these has been to be able to talk to trainees about the realities of the job but also why it is still a gloriously fulfilling profession. Hopefully my book ‘The Best Job in the World’ has done a bit of celebrating too.

How do you create a culture of wellbeing?

Being flexible when staff need to be at important family events is something I have always allowed. We’ve looked for ways to enhance our offer to support staff with things such as being able to buy bikes/cars through the school and an element of private health care. We have also had car valeting and other similar things happen on site. However, the most important aspect is an ethos that doesn’t always expect people to ‘cope’. The humanity of giving someone time to be a dad/mum/brother/sister/friend when they need it is central to what I believe. The dedication at the front of my book says ‘Family comes in many forms’ and I have been both the giver and receiver of this ethos at Passmores.

How do you advocate equality and diversity in your school?

My job as headteacher is to help create the best conditions for success for all of our community. This means that balance needs to be a focus. If you are to create a truly ‘balanced’ environment it is impossible to do so without advocating both equality and diversity.

How do you talent spot/nurture aspiring leaders?

Feedback is king in this regard. Parents, students, peers, HoDs will all provide essential information about staff that when combined with the performance of the students you teach give a very clear picture.

How would you like to affect change in the system?

I am one that has advocated (polite version) trying to be inside the tent looking out than outside the tent looking in. We must engage with the decision makers. We must use the strong trust that parents have in us to rally their support also. We can’t just complain without attempting to offer a better alternative. The reason I got involved the Headteachers’ Roundtable was to attempt to do exactly that. Our opinions are our opinions, we can’t claim to speak for the profession, but the variety and range of schools and professionals represented means that we have as good a chance as any group of doing so.

How would you like to change the perception of Headteachers?

It is difficult at the moment to convince people that being a headteacher is much fun! Telling someone that they should go for it whilst wondering whether or not you will be employed after the next set of results would be disingenuous in many ways. However, one thing that really does irk me is the general perception that permeates many Twitter interactions of it being a them and us situation with SLT and the rest of the staff. I think it is important for my staff to know that I am a headTEACHER. I came into this job because I wanted to teach and I still do. Sometimes the age of my audience changes but it is still about teaching and my fundamental desire to improve our community and society more widely.

What are the values that shape you as a leader?

Community and family are at the core of my values. We have a responsibility to each other that means I should not need to make your life worse to make my life better. I am not certain that this is something that is always present in our times of cut throat accountability but it is needed more than ever. The system wants to pitch one headteacher against another and it is vital that within communities we don’t allow this to happen.

What have been the highs and lows of your role as Headteacher?

The highs come thick and fast. Seeing the dedication and skill of our performers in a school production. Watching as a young person stands up in front of their peers to make a presentation. Seeing a young person that has dedicated themselves to their studies achieve the results they deserve. Seeing how a young person has overcome the numerous barriers placed in front of them by the accident of their birth. I cling on to these. I ensure I have pictures and reminders of those moments around me and if all else fails I get off my backside and walk around our school which is filled with hard working and dedicated professionals and balls of energy that are ready to burst in to adulthood to improve the world.

Leadership Advice

“Teaching is not just a career choice it is a lifestyle choice too”.

Leadership Inspiration

I have a bookshelf groaning with books that I’ve recently read. The next one in line is about a free school somewhere in Brent I think. How will it shape me as a leader – I honestly don’t know.

Leadership Mantra

“Remember you make the weather”.

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