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Lead with the ‘power of kindness’ says new NAHT President

NAHT president Tim Bowen

Tomorrow (Fri 8 Oct), new @NAHTnews president Tim Bowen will open the first face-to-face annual conference for school leaders in two years. Mr Bowen, who has been a primary school headteacher for more than 20 years will use his address to stress the importance of kindness in all aspects of education as schools and colleges begin to emerge from the pandemic.

“Life is tough for too many people in this country; and when life gets tough, kindness often becomes a casualty,” Mr Bowen will say.

“In every school community there have been children and families who have been brought down to their lowest point. A kind word, a kind deed, from us as leaders, or from the people in the teams we lead – they are often the first steps on the way back from desperation. Kindness is not a sign of weakness, it is an act of strength. By our example, we can show the young people we work with the power of kindness. And with that power, they can begin to repair the world that has been broken.”

Mr Bowen, who is currently on secondment as NAHT’s president, led his school, Maple Primary in Hertfordshire, through the majority of the pandemic. He will use his speech on Friday to challenge the lazy narrative of ‘school closures’ that was common during that time.

Mr Bowen will say: “I want to explicitly say something that has been conveniently forgotten. There was no remote working for school leaders during the pandemic. You put yourself directly in harm’s way to keep your schools open to support the children of critical workers and those who were most vulnerable, along with the staff working with them.

“When little was known about the virus, other than that it was a killer, many school leaders I know were in school every single day. Until Easter this year I was one of them. I know how hard it has been – I know what you have given, the pressure you have been under, the courage you have shown and the sacrifices you have made. I pay tribute to you all.”

Mr Bowen cites this heavy workload and additional responsibility for choosing Education Support as NAHT’s presidential charity for this year.

Sinead McBrearty, CEO of Education Support, who is also speaking at NAHT’s conference, said: “It is an unavoidable fact that over time, prolonged stress, anxiety and fatigue can lead to burnout. We need to prioritise properly the mental health and wellbeing of our school leadership teams as we recover from the pandemic so they can ensure that all staff are equipped and supported to do their best work. We’re delighted that NAHT has chosen Education Support to be its charity of the year. By working together we can support many more leaders and many more schools to thrive.”

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