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Heads Up

Heads Up believe that education is the most important part of society. They believe everyone deserves the very best education, regardless of where they were born or their background.

That’s why they specialise in making UK schools outstanding. They want every school to be outstanding. Yes, in terms of Ofsted but also in terms of being centres of excellence in all our communities.

They provide leadership skills development for school leadership teams to create an outstanding culture by establishing a powerful vision, instilling healthy conflict and growing excellence in the teams’ skills. The end result is an outstanding culture.

Examples of Programmes Offered

  • First Steps to Outstanding (Journey To Outstanding Part 1)
  • Who’s it for?
    Senior leaders who are looking to break the glass ceiling of good and move their school ‘outstanding’.

    Course overview
    This programme aims to help your school develop a compelling vision, clear values and strategic priorities.

    The programme covers:
    – Understanding which values underpin your vision
    – Creating your compelling vision which you and your team will remember and be excited about
    – Developing a focused plan to achieve your vision quickly
    – Showing you how to communicate your vision effectively so your team can get on board.

    Programme duration
    Five full days, two half days over one-two terms.

    How many people is this for?
    One to ten participants

    Estimated cost
    £6,280 + VAT + travel per school

    Where and how is this delivered?
    Face to face, at your school.

    Dates
    Arranged to meet your school’s needs.

    Possible Promotions
    When you enquire through CPDBee, Heads Up offer 10% off their Core Skills in Successful Difficult Conversations package.

  • Moving To Outstanding (Journey To Outstanding Part 2)
  • Who’s it for?
    Senior leaders who are looking to break the glass ceiling of good and move their school ‘outstanding’.

    Course overview
    This programme aims to help you:
    – develop a compelling vision, clear values and strategic priorities
    – be confident in having successful difficult conversations.

    In addition to ‘The First Steps to Outstanding’, this programme will cover:
    – The core skills of successful difficult conversations so you avoid the three most common problems
    – How to be flexible in your approach so you get the best outcome for any situation more quickly
    – What you can and can’t do legally so you can act with confidence
    – Two half-day implementation sessions to make sure your difficult conversations are moving forward.

    Programme duration
    Eight full days, five half days over one year.

    How many people is this for?
    One to ten participants (there’s an additional delegate fee for some courses if there are more than 6 people).

    Estimated cost
    £12,530 + VAT + travel per school.

    Where and how is this delivered?
    Face to face, at your school.

    Dates
    Arranged to meet your school’s needs.

    Possible Promotions
    When you enquire through CPDBee, Heads Up offer 10% off their Core Skills in Successful Difficult Conversations package.

  • Outstanding and Beyond (Journey To Outstanding Part 3)
  • Who’s it for?
    Senior leaders who are looking to break the glass ceiling of good and move their school ‘outstanding’.

    Course overview
    This programme aims to help you:
    – develop a compelling vision, clear values and strategic priorities
    – be confident in having successful difficult conversations
    – know how to grow the skills of their team to be exceptional.

    In addition to ‘Moving To Outstanding’, this programme helps you craft excellence in your school through coaching, a great tool to help people develop their skills so that they can be brilliant in their role and enjoy it.

    It will teach you and your senior leadership team how to coach effectively so that you can support your team to be high performing, both individually and collectively.

    Programme duration
    Twelve full days, ten half days over two years.

    How many people is this for?
    One to ten participants (there’s an additional delegate fee for some courses if there are more than 6 people).

    Estimated cost
    £19, 260 + VAT + travel per school.

    Where and how is this delivered?
    Face to face, at your school.

    Dates
    Arranged to meet your school’s needs.

    Possible Promotions
    When you enquire through CPDBee, Heads Up offer 10% off their Core Skills in Successful Difficult Conversations package.

  • Core Skills for Successful Difficult Conversations (Part 1)
  • Who’s it for?
    Senior and middle leaders who need to have difficult conversations with their team, parents and other adults.

    Course overview
    Managing conflict is a key leadership skill and one that the whole team need to be good at.
    This programme gives your team the core skills they need to have more successful difficult conversations.

    Programme duration
    One day.

    How many people is this for?
    One to 18 participants (the pricing changes after six and then 12 people).

    Estimated cost
    £1650+VAT  + travel per school.

    Where and how is this delivered?
    Face to face, at your school.

    Dates
    Arranged to meet your school’s needs.

    Possible Promotions
    When you enquire through CPDBee, Heads Up offer 10% off their Core Skills in Successful Difficult Conversations package.

  • Confident in Conversation (Successful Difficult Conversations Part 2)
  • Who’s it for?
    Senior and middle leaders who need to have difficult conversations with their team, parents and other adults.

    Course overview
    In addition to ‘Core Skills for Difficult Conversations’, this programme covers:
    – Adapting your approach – giving your team a simple method to know what approach will work best for any given person or situation.
    – Legal awareness – equipping your team with the knowledge of how to operate within the law and giving them the security to effectively tackle issues in your school.

    Programme duration
    Three full days, two half days over two terms.

    How many people is this for?
    One to 18 participants (the pricing changes after 6 and then 12 people).

    Estimated cost
    £5700 + VAT + travel per school.

    Where and how is this delivered?
    Face to face, at your school.

    Dates
    Arranged to meet your school’s needs.

    Possible Promotions
    When you enquire through CPDBee, Heads Up offer 10% off their Core Skills in Successful Difficult Conversations package.

  • Versatility in Difficult Conversations (Successful Difficult Conversations Part 3)
  • Who’s it for?
    Senior and middle leaders who need to have difficult conversations with their team, parents and other adults.

    Course overview
    In addition to ‘Confident in Conversation’, this programme covers:
    – Getting to the point – giving your team a range of techniques for getting the conversation started and ensuring it’s about what really needs to be talked about to secure improved performance and behaviour.
    – Tools and technique – giving you a battery of techniques for every eventuality, making sure you’re never stuck in a difficult conversation again to ensure successful conflict resolution.

    Programme duration
    Five full days, three half days over one school year.

    How many people is this for?
    One to 18 participants (the pricing changes after 6 and then 12 people).

    Estimated cost
    £9550 +VAT + travel per school.

    Where and how is this delivered?
    Face to face, at your school.

    Dates
    Arranged to meet your school’s needs.

    Possible Promotions
    When you enquire through CPDBee, Heads Up offer 10% off their Core Skills in Successful Difficult Conversations package.

Delivery location

Heads Up delivers programmes nationally in the UK.

Impact

Impact to date

In 7 years, Heads Up has worked with over 100 schools and 1500 school leaders.

Their analysis shows that every school they have worked with has either sustained their Good or Outstanding Ofsted grading or improved to one of those grades.

Feedback from headteachers, collected by CPDBee, shows that Heads Up’s training has improved leadership and had a direct impact on their ability to secure their Ofsted outcomes. It has also shown that it has improved leaders’ ability to have difficult conversations and that the skills taught are being used on daily basis.

Impact measurements used

Heads Up aim to improve school Ofsted grades to Outstanding. To do this they work to create compelling visions, increase school leaders’ ability to hold difficult conversations and increase the capacity of their teams.

They measure the impact of their work by tracking the changes in their client schools’ Ofsted grades over time. But they understand the limitations of the method and know that so much more than staff development contributes to an Ofsted grade. So they also measure their programmes’ impact in other ways.

The use self-report feedback forms which capture participants’ understanding of, confidence in and ability to use the techniques taught in each session. They also capture participants‘ learning through the action plans they are required to write.

Finally, they collect qualitative feedback by interviewing the teams they work with to explore how well strategies went compared to their expectations to build case studies. They have started to quantify this and are beginning to track changes in school teams’ buy in from the previous visions they used to the new compelling visions Heads Up support them to develop.

External assessment of impact

Heads Up has not yet had an independent, external evaluation of their impact.

Expertise

Programme design philosophy

Heads Up focus on three core strategies for creating an outstanding culture in their ‘Journey to Outstanding’ Programmes. All of them are based on leadership research and psychology texts and have been crafted further through years of in school delivery, feedback and evaluation.

The overriding theme across their programmes is based on what makes the difference between outstanding and other schools – culture. Another key theme of their programmes is that they are sustained over time to create lasting change.

The ‘Creating a Compelling Vision’ course is sustained over five full days, two half days across one-two terms.

Based on psychological theories of group development, transactional analysis and communication models, the ‘Successful Difficult Conversations’ course takes place over three full days, two half days across one-two terms.

Based on John Whitmore’s GROW model and others’ successful coaching models, the ‘Grow The Excellence of your Team’ coaching training course lasts 4 full days, 4 half days and over two terms.

All the courses begin with a meeting with Heads Up to ensure schools’ needs and objectives are understood and that the programmes can be tailored to meet them.

Team experience and expertise

 

HeadsUp Founder and Leadership Coach CPDBee - Sonia Gill

Heads Up’s founder, Sonia Gill, is a trained teacher, proven business leader after being selected from thousands to join the John Lewis Leadership Programme and educational leadership coach. She has supported over a hundred schools and observed thousands of difficult conversations.

Her team of facilitators is made up on lawyers, headteachers, school governors, communications coaches and actors. All of them have worked in education, and have led teams within education or business. Many of them are experienced coaches and all are capable facilitators.

Testimonials

Chellaston Academy, Kevin Gaiderman, Headteacher

Sonia and her team have been crucial to the development of my senior and Middle teachers here at Chellaston Academy. Her ability to connect with individuals and teams demonstrates her passion for education and leadership training. Her own experiences can easily be transferred and understood by participants on her courses as her ability to communicate is first rate.

Sonia has worked with me to transform my school and I give credit to her commitment, enthusiasm and desire to help. Following our experiences with Heads Up, 3 other secondary schools in Derby have engaged with them to deliver similar programmes and been pleased with the outcomes.

Balfour Junior Academy, Kim Parnell, Headteacher

I have been a Head for eighteen years in five ‘failing’ schools that I have had to turn around. Along with Sir Roy Blatchford, Sonia has provided the best training and support I have ever brokered.

I endorse her and her colleagues wholeheartedly.

The Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee School, Lesley Dyer, Head

I would give Heads Up a very big 10. I would have to say it’s the best training I’ve had in my 25 years of headship.

One of my senior teachers attended a day conference on having difficult conversations and recommended her. Sonia came in and delivered the ‘Journey to Outstanding’ leadership programme with my senior leadership team.

Not only was her course entertaining it was enormously beneficial and she guided us through some really tricky staffing issues which resulted in successful conclusions all round. We have also seen a large fall in staff absence resulting from our new approach since the training and so I would argue that it is cost effective.

We brought Heads Up back this year to deliver the vision course and this was particularly useful as we had two new members to the Senior leadership team. The vision course has really clarified our joint views on our beliefs and values and the strategic direction we will be taking with the school which we will be working on with all our staff and governors in the coming year.

We found her whole team of trainers excellent and although we tend to find roleplay uncomfortable the actor she used was able to very quickly pick up on the characters and situations we were describing to her which enabled us to rehearse our difficult conversations most effectively. Similarly, the advice for the solicitor was also excellent. Sonia was excellent and brought a whole wealth of knowledge and experience to each session. She also provided excellent support between sessions.

I cannot recommend her more highly.

Lancasterian Primary School, Paul Murphy, Headteacher

Sonia has a strongly developed expertise in leadership, with a sound understanding of the school context. She has been able to support us in developing a range of strategies, skills and tools which have powerfully supported school improvement here over the past two years. We have particularly benefitted as a school from the work we have done with Sonia around successful difficult conversations, vision and values, and the development of middle leadership. Sonia’s professional, friendly and flexible approach has facilitated an excellent working relationship between her and staff across the school.

Holy Cross and St Francis Primary Schools, Headteacher

Sonia and her team are highly efficient from the moment you engage with them, the organisational part of the training, right up to the delivery, presentation styles and materials. The work with Sonia and Heads Up has been of the highest quality in terms of engagement, ability to adapt to your own settings and needs and application of learned skills. The difficult conversations training was particularly useful and I can safely say that I use the techniques learned both at work at in my personal life on a regular basis.

Chellaston Academy, Kevin Gaiderman, Headteacher

Sonia and her team have been crucial to the development of my senior and Middle teachers here at Chellaston Academy. Her ability to connect with individuals and teams demonstrates her passion for education and leadership training. Her own experiences can easily be transferred and understood by participants on her courses as her ability to communicate is first rate.

Sonia has worked with me to transform my school and I give credit to her commitment, enthusiasm and desire to help. Following our experiences with Heads Up, 3 other secondary schools in Derby have engaged with them to deliver similar programmes and been pleased with the outcomes.

Balfour Junior Academy, Kim Parnell, Headteacher

I have been a Head for eighteen years in five ‘failing’ schools that I have had to turn around. Along with Sir Roy Blatchford, Sonia has provided the best training and support I have ever brokered.

I endorse her and her colleagues wholeheartedly.

The Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee School, Lesley Dyer, Head

I would give Heads Up a very big 10. I would have to say it’s the best training I’ve had in my 25 years of headship.

One of my senior teachers attended a day conference on having difficult conversations and recommended her. Sonia came in and delivered the ‘Journey to Outstanding’ leadership programme with my senior leadership team.

Not only was her course entertaining it was enormously beneficial and she guided us through some really tricky staffing issues which resulted in successful conclusions all round. We have also seen a large fall in staff absence resulting from our new approach since the training and so I would argue that it is cost effective.

We brought Heads Up back this year to deliver the vision course and this was particularly useful as we had two new members to the Senior leadership team. The vision course has really clarified our joint views on our beliefs and values and the strategic direction we will be taking with the school which we will be working on with all our staff and governors in the coming year.

We found her whole team of trainers excellent and although we tend to find roleplay uncomfortable the actor she used was able to very quickly pick up on the characters and situations we were describing to her which enabled us to rehearse our difficult conversations most effectively. Similarly, the advice for the solicitor was also excellent. Sonia was excellent and brought a whole wealth of knowledge and experience to each session. She also provided excellent support between sessions.

I cannot recommend her more highly.

Lancasterian Primary School, Paul Murphy, Headteacher

Sonia has a strongly developed expertise in leadership, with a sound understanding of the school context. She has been able to support us in developing a range of strategies, skills and tools which have powerfully supported school improvement here over the past two years. We have particularly benefitted as a school from the work we have done with Sonia around successful difficult conversations, vision and values, and the development of middle leadership. Sonia’s professional, friendly and flexible approach has facilitated an excellent working relationship between her and staff across the school.

Holy Cross and St Francis Primary Schools, Headteacher

Sonia and her team are highly efficient from the moment you engage with them, the organisational part of the training, right up to the delivery, presentation styles and materials. The work with Sonia and Heads Up has been of the highest quality in terms of engagement, ability to adapt to your own settings and needs and application of learned skills. The difficult conversations training was particularly useful and I can safely say that I use the techniques learned both at work at in my personal life on a regular basis.