Enabling Flourishing: for Ourselves, at School and in the Community

‘Life in all its fullness’ leads us towards a notion of ‘flourishing’ which is a helpfully inclusive concept for a deeper view of what education is all about. However, it is a word that that can be mis-leading, not least because it can skew our thinking to desire a continuous sense of perfection, happiness or ongoing trajectory of improvement (which, of course, is anyway statistically impossible for all schools to be always improving all of the time, given our selection of relative measures of success and the distribution of grading across a normal distribution curve!). A Christian understanding of flourishing is firmly grounded in the teaching of Jesus and expansively illustrated through a wide range of parables and examples – we may consider for example The Parable of the Sower, Living in the Vine, the Mustard Seed etc. Indeed the metaphor of trees planted by living waters, and the bearing of fruit extends right back into the Old Testament prophets (Jeremiah 17) and the Psalms (Psalm 1 + others). While our goal may well be flourishing children, for this to be achieved, we must also focus on leadership development and flourishing adults. One could argue, there will be no flourishing children where there are no flourishing adults. I’d like to open this Called, Connected, Committed with 4 simple thoughts on flourishing:
We flourish because of our diversity and relationships, not in spite of them. A great garden or a wonderful rainforest ecosystem is full of variety and difference, interaction and mutual benefit. However attractive order, uniformity or compliance may appear, our networks and partnerships are richer in variety; our leadership teams work more effectively in diversity. Our networking need not then seek repetition of practice, or even transfer of practice from one context into another, but rather, through diversity and variation, seek a broader and more varied notion of flourishing together.
We flourishing occurs at different times and speeds – in a beautiful garden, the gardener designs the layout such that through the whole seasons different plants emerge at different times. Few will consistently flower, and the most spectacular may only last a very short time. This is much like the actual reality of educational institutions, and may give some comfort to school leaders trapped in a paradigm of the expectation of continual perfection and constant upward trajectories.
We flourish when we stop doing things. It is easy in developing networks and collaborations to focus on the new and innovative. However, wise leaders understand that to start some effectively, there is often a need to stop something else to make space or time. To further extend the gardening analogy, this is the pruning or cutting back to allow new life to spring forth (John 15).
We flourish so we can look outwards and give. In every part of a plant-based ecosystem, there is a future momentum which gives away – this might be in the emergence of a new seed from the beautiful old flower, or the pollination of one species to another. The flourishing is not an end in itself, but the beginning of the next growth. This focus our leadership thinking not simply on how we can self-improve and become the most successful institutions in isolation, but that we conceive our relationships as outward-looking and demonstrably generous.

Do continue to connect with us through the website at or by email at – or of course through Twitter at @CofE_EduLead – please do share this issue widely and as ever, we welcome your feedback and interaction!

Andy Wolfe
Deputy Chief Education Officer (Leadership Development)

Having published the Vision in 2016, and then launched the Foundation’s ‘called, connected and committed mission statement, we have developed a new tool which helps us reflect together on the kinds of leadership practices we might see in school leaders who are seeking to live out the vision in this way. We have taken the 4 pillars of the Vision, and the 3 elements of ‘C/C/C’ and mapped them against each to produce this matrix of 12 pairs of leadership practices. This has already been used on the CofEPQH programme, and we will be developing further resources to unpack the concepts here from a leadership and theological point of view, along with a 360 appraisal tool which can help leaders reflect more deeply on this aspects of their leadership. You will note that the titles of ‘Called, Connected, Committed’ are all drawn from this matrix – so we will be making our way around the matrix each month with this series of resources for you in your leadership. We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Professor David Ford (who as you will know, chaired the group that wrote the ‘Deeply Christian, Serving the Common Good’ Vision for Education in 2016) – David is going to be writing further resources in this area, helping us understand and unpack these key leadership ideas from a Christian perspective.
Staff Well-being - Surveys and Ideas.

This short section is a curation of links to different well-being surveys and ideas.   These links will enable you to take a short cut to researching and exploring what would suit your situation. - it might just save you some time and so enhance your own well-being!
The Health Education Partnership provide support to schools with monitoring, through surveys, aspects of health and well-being - some LAs subscribe already but you can do a paper version for free or an online version for a basic fee.

Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, although primarily a children's mental health charity, have a network and associated resources section called Schools in Mind.  This  is a free network for school staff and allied professionals which shares practical, academic and clinical expertise regarding the wellbeing and mental health issues that affect schools. The video clip below is just one example - they promote the need for schools to support staff so they can, in turn effectively support the children and families whom we serve.

In January's TES, Julian Stanley, CEO of the charity Education Support Partnership wrote an article entitled 'We must change our definition of teacher wellbeing'.  Education Support Partnership is the UK’s only wellbeing and mental health charity for everyone working in education. For more information visit  There are a myriad of useful resources here that can be starting points for developing staff well-being - a good place to begin is the page on tips for handling stress - read more here  If you like to know the background reading  then this 2018 Teacher Well-being Index is worth a read. 

Schools the world over are looking at school staff well-being and the infographic above is from an Australian website, Teacher-wellbeing, that focuses solely on school staff well-being.  There are free resources for surveys and hints and tips too. Read more here. 

In this short video clip there are thought starters for looking at well-being from a viewpoint that spans more than just the health aspect.  It asks us to reflect on what the well-being risks are for our specific organisations and encourages us to ensure we regularly review and reflect on both needs and engagement in our well-being approaches. 
Claire Ely talks about staff well being in school settings.  She recognises that being looked after by leaders and managers, enables staff to perform much better in the work place. She suggests that leaders need to think about: offering a supervision systems so that staff can process their day/week; helpful training and referring to appropriate services; creating a check-in space for staff; encouraging colleagues to know their own personal limits in terms of work load and that it's OK to say no; be flexible around change and be compassionate to yourself if mistakes are made. There is a PDF that goes with this entitled Ten Steps Towards School Staff Well-Being -

April Book Recommendations

Well-being; working shorter days; achieving better outcomes.  Alex Sooting-Kim Pang , the founder of the Restful Company and visiting academic at Stanford University, explains how creativity and productivity increases when we ensure our daily routines include rest.  Including great stories of the lives of well-known writers, artists and composers, interspersed with explanations of recent research, this book is thought-provoking and includes simple suggestions for changes to daily routines which the author recommends for improving the reader's work-life balance and effective output. 

The Mindful Leader by Peter Shaw
In this latest book by Peter Shaw he guides leaders to reflect on how they approach winning hearts and minds and joining hands together for the common good.  He encourages leaders to reflect on key questions, such as 'What might my next steps be in building a stronger community with the people I engage with in my work?'... 'What acts of kindness that are important have I not been finding the space and time for?' ... 'Within my team, what practical steps might I take to create moments of shared understanding and a hopefulness about the way forward?'.  The reflection is approached through three sections - Heart, Head and Hands - containing themes such as responsibility, humility and reconciliation and concludes with thoughts on how we, as leaders can embody these different themes. 

News from the Networks
  • Our Rural Schools Networks continue to embed in the 4 current Dioceses, and we have begun initial development work with University of Nottingham, who are going to be undertaking a small scale piece of evaluation research into this. On Monday this week we were able to launch a new Rural Schools Network for Northumberland, and following a successful event, around 50 schools have chosen to get involved in that for the coming 2 years. A further Rural Schools event is coming up in Bath & Wells Diocese in early June.
  • Our MAT Peer Support Network work continues to grow with recent events taking place with DDAT (Derby), DNEAT (Norwich), DOWMAT (Worcester), BDMAT (Birmingham). If you are in a MAT and would like to get involved in this – frequently focused on Curriculum Design – do let us know.
  • On Friday 3 May, we have our next national gathering of the National Secondary Leadership Network (NSLN) at St Mary Magdalene Academy in Greenwich – this event is looking at Curriculum, and we’re joined by Ofsted and Chartered College for this – this continues to build well, following a range of smaller regional events in early April. There are now over 60 schools as part of the network and we’re looking forward to a great day together.
  • We’re looking forward to launching a range of new Peer Support Networks across the country for 2019-20 as the Peer Support Network continues to grow – if your school would like to get involved in this, please let us know indeed – this is groups of 15 or so leaders coming together to work on shared leadership development priorities together facilitated by an expert. Potential focus includes – Curriculum, Removing Disadvantage, Teaching and Learning, SIAMS etc.

There are nearly 150 leaders in our current cohort of CoEPQH, accredited by DfE as an NPQH, across 5 regions. The programme is recruiting aspiring and current headteachers for January 2020 start across 7 regional cohorts.  Find out more about the programme on our website and register your interest. Applications for 2020 programme open at the end of May – for more information and to register your interest go to 

MAT Leadership Network.
Our next MAT Leadership Network event takes place on 21st May at Lambeth Palace, focusing on ‘Sustaining School Improvement’.  We will be hearing the latest update on the new Ofsted education inspection framework from Professor Daniel Muijs, Ofsted's Head of Research. Also, exploring with experienced MAT colleagues Nitesh Gor (CEO Avanti Schools Trust) and Sharon Bruton (CEO The Keys Federation) about how they collaboratively curriculum plan. MAT CEOs, MAT Senior leadership team members and DDEs please book your place at
MAT Governance Leadership Programme 
Do you have a chair/ vice chair of governors or MAT board director who would value taking part in a FULLY FUNDED Church of England MAT Governance Leadership programme this year?
The Church of England are running a MAT Governance Leadership Programme in partnership with the Confederation of Schools Trust specifically for MAT Governance leaders to increase capability and skills in this challenging and unique leadership role. This starts in Autumn 2019. If you are a MAT, you are entitled to one fully funded place – apply by 7 July.
That’s all for this month – we’ll be back in June with more. Please share this with colleagues – we welcome your feedback too  -
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