We know that in many schools, headteachers are very well supported, be it in a Multi-Academy Trust, federation or Local Authority. But there are too many colleagues - new headteachers especially - who are not able to access the traditional suite of face-to-face induction support as a result of the lockdown restrictions. It must be especially tough for them, not knowing what 'normal' looks like.
When Ros McMullen contacted Andrew Morrish about what they could both do to help as former fellow headteachers and trust CEOs, the seed was sown. After a few weeks of thinking it through and taking the time to talk to other former headteachers such as Kenny Frederick and Pete Crockett, Headrest was born.
A Twitter account followed that immediately generated great interest, including from the likes of Alistair Campbell and Melissa Benn. The new website was then launched that opened another means for headteachers to get in touch. The aim is that colleagues will share this far and wide and that every governing body brings it to the attention of their headteacher.
Central to Headrest is the fact that it is instantly available. We see ourselves as the first responder, almost. We aren't here necessarily to give advice, but if we feel someone needs it, we have experienced colleagues who we can refer them on to. We aren't here to judge or to tell people what to do or how to do it. Other organisations can do this, such as unions or professional associations.
In short, we offer a sympathetic ‘listening ear’, free-of-charge, for those who are exhausted and needing to chat with someone who understands and has been there before. As we grow, we hope to develop a resource bank of ideas and suggestions on how headteachers can manage their anxieties and stress levels. Headteachers are always the last ones to think about their own wellbeing, always putting others first, and so we want them to know that we are always here for them.
Our job is to listen, and then to reassure, reaffirm and help recalibrate. By also showing heads how to refocus, our priority will always be their mental health and wellbeing. Leading a school can be a lonely job at times, and so by simply knowing that somebody is there for them at the end of the phone that knows how they are feeling might help.
Looking for more resources to support your teaching and learning? Check out the best education technology resources on our sister platform EdTech Impact.