Headteacher Update Podcast: School leadership in difficult circumstances

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

This episode looks at how to be an effective school leader during challenging and difficult circumstances – both expected and unexpected. Three experienced leaders discuss how to lead and manage these situations, how to lead under pressure, and specific examples.

Our experts consider how to lead and manage these situations, sharing their tenets of effective leadership under pressure, their own experiences, and lessons learnt.

We ask how leaders stay calm, decisive, and people-centred when times are tough. We also look at the particular challenge of handling a negative Ofsted inspection outcome.

We consider specific examples of challenging circumstances and the different types of challenges we may face as a school leader, handling angry parents, a death in your school community, a local incident, a serious safeguarding issue, staffing problems, Ofsted and others.

We try to outline a general principles of handling these situations and discuss a step-by-step guide for how to respond.

We discuss in particular Ofsted – perhaps the most common “challenging circumstance” – and how leaders can handle a negative outcome and the challenge of turning a school around.

As ever, our host for this episode is Helen Frostick, a National Leader of Education and semi-retired primary school headteacher. Here guests are:

  • Dr Kulvarn Atwal is the head learning leader at Highlands Primary School in Ilford and Uphall Primary School in Barking. He is the author of the books The Thinking Teacher and The Thinking School. Find him and his books @thinkingschool2
  • Andrew O’Neill is headteacher at All Saints Catholic College in Kensington, London. He is Gold Award Winner in the Secondary Headteacher of the Year category in the Pearson Teaching Awards 2022. Find him @andrewoneillHT

You can listen to this episode of the Headteacher Update Podcast above. To hear other Headteacher Update podcasts, or to subscribe for free to new editions, search for 'The Headteacher Update Podcast' in your podcast streaming application of choice. Or visit www.headteacher-update.com/knowledge-bank/podcasts/

For details about The Headteacher Update Podcast, or to suggest future topics, email editor Pete Henshaw at pete.henshaw@markallengroup.com

This material is protected by MA Education Limited copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.


Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Sign up Headteacher update Bulletin
About Us

Headteacher Update is a magazine, website, podcast and regular ebulletin dedicated to the primary school leadership team. We tackle a wide range of leadership issues, offering best practice, case studies and in-depth information, advice and guidance. Headteacher Update magazine is distributed free to approximately 20,000 primary school headteachers.

Learn more about Headteacher update


Register to receive regular updates on primary education news delivered free to your inbox.