100 second Blog: Toxic climates for learning- what are the leadership factors contributing and what do we need to do to improve leadership?


The  100 second blog

I’ve been reading about toxic work environments in schools this week.  So for my first  100 second  blog, I want to provide a brief commentary on what might be going wrong in our schools and what needs to happen to have a positive climate for learning

Characteristics of toxic climate for learning

In summary the main characteristics of toxic climate for learning in our schools:

  • Over bearing monitoring by leadership
  • Abdication of leadership having responsibility for welfare
  • Culture of fear
  • Culture of setting up colleagues to fail
  • Culture that is data driven based on flimsy understanding
  • One goal – results
  • Lack of effective educational vision
  • Meetings culture and action planning beyond acceptable limits
  • Mocksteds and autocratic leadership
  • Accountability determinant management style
  • Lack of training opportunities
  • Leadership lack of self awareness
  • Invisible leadership – floating around but having no impact
  • No empathy for people
  • Humour-less environment
  • Policy driven organisations that stifle any creativity
  • Lazy leaders
  • Leaders lacking competence and feeling threatened
  • Workloads too high
  • Trigger happy leaders happy to punish and not praise
  • Values vacuum leadership
  • ‘Us and ‘them’ attitudes
  • Poor conditions for working
  • Lack of well-being

 Contributing factors leading to toxic climate by leaders

  • Poor quality leaders who don’t have skills and attributes to empower people
  • Leaders only interested in self-interests  and promotion
  • Leaders who are incompetent and lack empathy
  • Leaders who do not have communication skills
  • Leaders who are not trust worthy
  • Leaders focused on data and not people
  • Leaders who do not role model great behaviours
  • Leaders who are driven by power and greed

Promoting great leadership and achieving  a positive climate for learning

I believe schools should consider the following:

  • 5 year rolling contracts for school leaders so that if standards of professional behaviour are not consistently strong, they can leave.
  • Annual programmes of learning for leaders inked to performance management
  • Annual 360-degree reviews of leaders to ensure they are reflective
  • School leaders’ effectiveness should also be judged from exit interview feedback
  • Visioning every year should be an annual activity to maintain strong climate for learning
  • Leaders who bully, harass or damage teacher careers are struck off
  • Minimum times for PPA for teachers
  • Well-being council in every school
  • Schools invest in well-being days for staff
  • Leaders need to develop talent, not bury it
  • Leaders need to call it a day if they are only in it for their own self interests.

Obviously so much more can be said but that’s all in 100 seconds!

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