Talking Heads Blog #42: Amy Harvey

Leadership Biography

Name: Amy Harvey

Phase: KS2

Sector: State Junior School

Region: East of England

Years Served in Education: 21

Years Served as a Headteacher: 1 week!

Leadership Journey:

8 years teaching in the Middle East and Africa. Ten years in one school in King’s Lynn where I was English Lead, Senco, Curriculum lead. Two years Deputy at another local school. Three sons interspersed in my journey taking me out of action along the way!

Leadership Coach/Mentor/Inspiration:

Kay Corley is my mentor. She is my executive Headteacher and I am so pleased to have her support. She is a calm presence, but knows what she wants and how she wants it.

Mary Myatt is an inspiration to me, I know I can talk to her and she will set me right. I am inspired by so many women leaders though, starting with my very first teacher, Miss Carol Precious, my very first head, Julie Henderson, up to my most recent head, Jennie Wildsmith-Garton.

Many more in between that I have met and learn from each day; all the amazing ladies at #Womened.

Twitter Handle: @ms_jamdangory

Blog: amylharvey60.wixsite.com

Leadership Reflections

Why do you engage with grassroots and social media?

I am always learning. By engaging with grassroots and social media, I make contact with inspirational people and ideas, and I am kept up to date and invigorated. I have made many excellent educational connections which have provided me with some fantastic opportunities which has led me to develop the confidence to take each next step. I don’t always find the time, and I have also learned that going digital-free for a week or so is very beneficial to me too.

Why do we need to be outward-facing as leaders?

I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t be outward facing. Schools need to be part of the communities they are in, and we need to know our demographic and support our families as best we can. We can also be reciprocal with other schools in the area; share, swap and solve problems together.

How do you create a culture of wellbeing?

I listen, I don’t think I am judgmental. I believe that we are humans first and all of us deserve to be treated equitably. I have made it very clear from the start that I want my relationship with staff to be open and honest, allowing us all to be able to speak in a frank but kind manner when it is needed.

How would you like to change the perception of Headteachers?

When I first started my journey towards leadership I was asked whether I wanted to be a Head teacher. I said I did, to which the person responded with a barrage of criticism of the job, the government, the stress, what was the point etc. At that instance, I had a moment of clarity. I simply replied that that was exactly why I wanted to do the job; that children needed people to want to do this difficult job; that teaching is my vocation and I want to help new teachers be the best they can be.

What makes you get out of bed every morning?

My sons. Everything I do is ultimately to support them on a daily basis. Through life’s ups and downs they have been my constant and my ‘ikigai’ – my reason for being. They have kept me mentally strong enough to believe in myself and they are proud of my hard work and achievements and tell me so.

What do you do as self-care routines to look after yourself as a Headteacher?

I know what I should be doing! I certainly don’t do as much exercise as I should, and have no will power when it comes to staff room birthday cakes etc. However, what I currently do for self-care is leave my electronics downstairs when I go to bed and just have a kindle and a clock radio in my room, this has definitely helped me with sleeplessness, and I have just started yoga classes and can’t believe what I have missed. It totally relaxes me and gives a good stretch too.

Leadership Advice

I have only been in post for a week, but I did an interesting exercise with my closest friends devised by Simon Sinek in his ‘Find Your Why’ resources, called the ‘Friend Exercise’. This helped me to see from another perspective why these five people ‘choose’ me as a friend, and what I give to them as a friend that no other friend does. It has helped me to see my personality strengths that I can transfer as a leader. The most powerful word that come from all of them was that I listen. I have taken that on board and am determined to be a leader who listens, gives my time to all the people in my care, and is available.

Leadership Inspiration

I dip in and out of books all the time. I think I might have a bit of an educational book addiction! Currently on my bedside table is Leadership Matters by Andy Buck, Inventing Ourselves by Sarah Jayne Blakemore, Leadership with a Moral Purpose by Will Ryan, Making the Leap by Dr Jill Berry and Hopeful Schools by Mary Myatt (she has her own shelf at my house!). For me, any kind of reading around the job is a way to find inspiration, support and reassurance. I believe that I will make my own way as a head, make my own mistakes, and have my own successes, but with mentors and authors I can turn to for tips, and reminders, my stabilisers as I take my first wobbly and tentative steps forward, I feel a bit more secure.

Leadership Mantra

Lead by example, listen and be yourself.

(We will see how effective that is – ask me again in July!)

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