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the path to outstanding.
Creating a more cohesive management community on our path to Outstanding

Consistently rated 'Good' by Ofsted, The Henley College - the sixth form college for South Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley - shares its experience of working with Kim on its path to 'Outstanding'...

As we pursue our vision to be an ‘Outstanding’ College that transforms lives, members of our management team have been taking the time to develop how they work together and how they better support those around them.

Over the last year, more than 20 of our colleagues have taken part in a development programme designed to enhance and strengthen their leadership skills as well as their relationship with and connection to each other.

College Principal Satwant Deol is a firm believer that good leadership and management is crucial to the engagement and wellbeing of our colleagues and students.

“Even before the pandemic, we were working in a challenging Further Education environment. This programme was an important opportunity for our managers to pause and reflect as we pursue our ambitious goals for the College and live our mission and values,” said Satwant.

The programme was run by Kim Newton-Woof, an experienced leadership development consultant and coach.

“We wanted to be challenged at both senior and middle management level. Kim’s an expert and she also has a passion for the sector and a creative approach. She designed the programme with us as a partner, while bringing an outside perspective,” said Satwant.


The programme included five day-long sessions and regular small-group virtual conversations with Kim.


“People often approach these sorts of sessions with trepidation. I know the team were concerned that they would be too busy to take part, or that they’d be talked to rather than listened to. My approach is always to create programmes that are interactive and conversational - and I let teams set their own agendas,” said Kim.


“I’m taking more time to check in”

“I expected to learn about management, but I actually learnt more about myself, as a leader and as a person,” said Swapna Jare, Curriculum Leader.

“The focus on how people deal with situations differently depending on if they are having a good day or a bad day was really powerful. This has made me more mindful about how I might come across to my colleagues on a 'bad day'.  Additionally, now I’m taking more time to check in to see how my colleagues are at the beginning of our meetings - and then adapting my approach accordingly.”


For Noel Wood, Curriculum Leader, the importance of listening stood out. “In our eagerness to help, it can be tempting to dive in with solutions when someone has a problem. Now I’m taking more time to listen and ask questions.” Noel is also using this approach with his students. “If a student is having trouble meeting deadlines, I’m taking more time to find out what the problem is, rather than jumping straight in with an action plan.”


“I can already see a more collaborative approach”


The importance of giving our team time and space to come together and build rapport is an important lesson from the programme.


“Our guiding light is to be an exceptional college that transforms lives. As part of this, we want to demonstrate increased effectiveness in our staff development, engagement and management. Our leaders and managers need to be supportive and ambitious while remaining grounded in their approach,” said Tristan Arnison, Assistant Principal. “This programme has helped develop our understanding of how to work most successfully together and is already helping us to improve in these areas.”


Swapna said, “During this programme, we got to regularly meet other managers across the college - colleagues that we might have otherwise only seen once a year - and that gave us all a better understanding of what’s happening across the College, how their roles impact ours and vice versa.” 


Reflecting on the success of the programme, Satwant said, “I can already see a more collaborative approach across the College. Now we will think about how we can continue this learning process and find more opportunities to bring colleagues together.”

GJS, 27 September 2022

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