Best Practice

How to conduct difficult conversations

All this year, National Leader of Education Helen Frostick is offering term-by-term advice for new headteachers to help them prioritise their work and reflect on areas for improvement and focus. This time, she focuses on one of the most challenging areas for new leaders – difficult conversations

At any time of year, difficult conversations will most probably top of the list of the concerns of most headteachers. Dealing with difficult conversations with staff can be the biggest challenge, regardless of experience.

These conversations are the stuff of sleepless nights. And not surprisingly: staff are a school’s greatest resource and the most expensive.

At times of staffing challenge, it is important to have up-to-date job descriptions and contracts. Paperwork needs to be reviewed, annually, as it serves as a recommitment to what the conditions of service are. These are non-negotiables.

At my school, St Mary Magdalen’s, reviewing job descriptions takes place in the first three weeks of the new school year but it is never too late to revisit them at any point in the year (this is also a good opportunity for staff to reread the Data Protection Policy too).

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