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18th February 2022

This week's message from Andrew Teale, Diocesan Director of Education 

Imposter Syndrome
I’m heading to Pembridge CE Primary this morning (Thursday). It is one of the wonderful things about being DDE is that I get to visit so many schools, including some of the ones, where I used to work years ago. Generally, in education, that doesn’t happen. Once we move on from a school we rarely, if ever return to the schools we leave behind. It is quite strange given how strong the bonds can become within a school community. I remember feeling completely heart-broken when leaving Pembridge. I got very upset at the leaving service in Dec 2009. I felt very deeply imbedded in the school community. I was excited to be taking on the next challenge that awaited at St Paul’s, but I was very attached to that small village school community. It might be because it was my first headship or possibly because it was also the school for my own children. I was still a teacher, as well as the head and (for the last time) had my own classroom, albeit shared with Mrs Coates, the other (and much more brilliant) year 5 and 6 teacher.  I ran the cricket teams and the chess club and directed the plays. Bugsy. Joseph. Chitty. All good fun and hugely rewarding. Hopefully, some things that those former pupils, now grown-ups, still remember. I loved the sense of being at the heart of the village. Walking from school to church, crossing under the historic market hall and past the separate bell tower was an absolute delight. The welcome at St Mary’s Church was always, always warm even though we usually needed to keep our coats on!
I spoke to a (very) new headteacher last week, who was feeling a little anxious and all the things they did not know how to do, simply because they had never been required to do them ever before.  Buildings and estates work. Finance decisions. Asbestos registers etc, etc. A constant stream of questions, most of which we’ve never had to answer before and are not sure about.
I was grateful to be able to offer the reassurance that it felt exactly the same for me, not just in my first headship but in every single leadership role since, including this one. That ‘in at the deep end’ feeling. So much to work out and that nagging thought that perhaps the people who appointed you had actually made a terrible mistake. I believe this feeling is now called ‘imposter syndrome’. That sense that we aren’t really the people that others think we are. That we are actually completely inept and that that it is only a matter of time before everyone finds out. I’m not sure that feeling ever goes away entirely. I certainly still feel like that sometimes. I also know that some of the truly, outstanding and highly successful school leaders I work with now, still feel like that sometimes too.
I can vividly remember standing on the playground on duty at Pembridge in those first days as headteacher in 2003. There was so much I didn’t know about leading a school. So much still to learn about the broad and hugely wide-ranging role. There were some wonderfully experienced teachers, some of whom had been teaching for about three times as long as me. It was probably a blessing, looking back, that I didn’t really understand then, just how much I still had to learn. Thankfully, I did learn. Hour by hour, day by day, term by term, year by year. With the support of a wonderful staff and governors and incumbents, improvement partners, patient (and impatient) parents and even OfSTED and SIAMs inspectors, I found my way through and hopefully didn’t mess things up too much.  I certainly made lots and lots of mistakes, but had a few successes along the way too. It is perhaps ironic that the best teachers of all for us as school leaders, are the children who come to school to learn from us.

 Click here to continue to read Andrew's message.

Final Reminder!
Book your Place on the First Hereford Diocese Schools' Carbon Zero Forum

Following the headteachers' briefing mentioned in Andrew's message, all agreed it would be very beneficial to share ideas and discuss the support church schools need to help reach the carbon zero target by 2030. Our first forum will be Wednesday 2nd March 2022, between 3.30 - 4.30pm.  Please forward this invitation to everyone involved in energy saving initiatives in your school community, the more participants we have the more creative we can be!  Please use this link to book your place.

Forthcoming Diocesan Online Training & Development Highlights

SIAMS Training and Support

RE & Christian Ethos Governance

If you would like to talk through any of the support and training on offer from the Education Team, please contact us via email at or call on  07539 372748.

Collective Worship Video 

Words that Hurt: Gossip
The video for after half term is uploaded ready for you. This week we explore words that hurt and the theme of gossip. We reflect on how words can build us up or tear us down and whether we should  ‘bite our tongues’.  The take away worship sheet for home and school use includes further ideas for reflection.  
If you would like your school community to benefit from our weekly Collective Worship Videos, please contact the Education Team at or call on 07539 372748 and we can talk through the Partnership Agreement options available to you.

Collective Worship Corner...

Pupil Led Worship and a COMPETITION!!

The Education Team is working on a project to provide a training guide for pupils leading worship, and would like your help. We would love to use photographs of collective worship from across our schools showing pupils involvement. These will need permission to be shared beyond school, as they may be used in the final course materials.  Please email your high quality photos or a link to download them. 

All schools who contribute photos will be entered into a draw to win a free copy of the primary RE resource book Inspirational People’ (RE Today).  The competition deadline is 4.00pm, 25th March 2022
In the meantime, The ‘Faith in the Nexus’ project based at NICER have recorded a webinar exploring research into  ‘Spiritual leadership by children in church primary school pupils.’ You can watch the recording here:

Andrew Teale's Message Continued...

So, I’m really looking forward to going back to Pembridge today. As things worked out, Rob Hollis, who I went on to work with at St Paul’s is the headteacher at Pembridge, now and is doing wonderful work is this village school which is so typical of so many across our diocese.
I believe we can take comfort too, in the knowledge that there can be no imposter syndrome in our relationship with God. He knows exactly who we are and has done since the first second of our existence. He loves us for exactly who we are. He never leaves our side, no matter the challenges we face. He is our guide, our comforter and our strength.
3rd Sunday before Lent
Eternal God,
whose Son went among the crowds
and brought healing with his touch:
help us to show his love,
in your Church as we gather together,
and by our lives as they are transformed
into the image of Christ our Lord.


On Friday, I felt ‘in at the deep end’ once again, when I met with the Education ‘Minister for the School System’, Baroness Barran in sunny Stoke. It is the first time I’ve had a meeting with a government (rather than Church of England) minister, and I felt a bit nervous at the prospect. In the event, she was very personable and seemed very much to be listening to the leaders around the table. I was able to highlight the issues for rural areas with lots of small schools as we considered the imminent government white paper on education system reform, which everyone now seems to be talking about.
Our schools remain at the front line of the Coronavirus pandemic, and it is still a clear and present problem in many schools across the diocese. The strain on staff and especially school leaders has not gone away and many are exhausted once again.
Thankfully half term is now at hand and this one is always, always a turning point in the school year. It is, of course, the half way point. The days are now lengthening, the snowdrops are already up. Lambing season is almost here and lent (the runway to Easter) begins in just a few weeks. The second half of the school year always seems to go by more quickly than the first and we hope and pray that we will, at last, start to see an easing of covid difficulties in schools.
The Lord be with you in these stormy last hours of half-term and may he always be a source of everlasting comfort and support for you in your vocation.
Blessings and best wishes for a wonderful half term holiday.
Kind regards,
Canon Andrew Teale
Diocesan Director of Education

Wishing everyone a restful half term break...

For further information and updates from the wider Diocese please see the regular bulletins issued by the central communications team.

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