Today is the 31st August 2016. Tomorrow is the 1st September 2016. The Summer holidays have ended and then new academic year begins. However, this time it is different.
Tonight is the night before I become a headteacher.
I have been asked by several people already how I feel. Truthfully: I have not been this excited since I got married. I’ve also not been this terrified since I got married.
I’ll never forget my wedding. I was 21 and we were getting married in Sidcup (James Corden famously called it the ‘Armpit of England’). It had snowed and we were shovelling snow from the drive of the church. The rehearsal, I later realised, would never prepare me for the next day. In a rehearsal you might practice walking down the aisle and repeating your vows (which you say after the priest anyway). But you don’t see the dress. You aren’t surrounded by all your friends and family. You don’t have the party. The rehearsal is nothing like the day.
Tonight I feel like I’ve practiced lots. I’ve rehearsed scenarios in my mind. I’ve even faced Future Leaders actors. Up to this point, much of my career has been practicing and fine-tuning and practicing more. But tomorrow it becomes the real thing. Tomorrow it becomes a reality.
I’m often asked why I am becoming a headteacher. I am 28 years and 4 months old- why now?
Firstly, my parents put a passion in me. My parents are both devoted Christians and their faith affects every area of their lives. They are two people who are so full of compassion for other people. This compassion has led my father to work in a drug-rehab center and I had the privilege of joining him on Soup Runs in Canterbury. This compassion has led my mother to care for vulnerable mums who have faced domestic violence and teach them how to cook. The list of their compassionate exploits could go on and on and on.
That compassion lives in me. In fact, I started my own compassionate exploits from a young age- imitating my parents. I spent my Saturdays at KidzClub which bused in the city’s poorest kids and provided a fun-filled morning for them. I went to Vietnam and worked with Cambodian Refugees. I sat next to the homeless man on the street, giving him dog food and a banana.
I’m becoming a headteacher because I fundamentally believe that every child can achieve their potential, regardless of their race, background or postcode. Compassion isn’t a comfortable thing: it’s gut-wrenching. It moves you to action. And, in my case, helps move others to action too. We need our schools to make a huge difference
But I also have peace.
I have heard the horror stories from other headteachers. The ever-increasing pressure and burden, which is there regardless of how well you lead others. Simply because the job carries a lot of responsibilities- the weight of it cannot be ignored. However, I have a level of peace going into tomorrow, much like I did when I got married.
Firstly, I believed that God has called me to make a difference in children’s lives. It’s my purpose. Whether you believe in God or not, this is what motivates me. I am a prayerful man and I believe God will carry me through the good times and the tough times.
Secondly, I am supported. My close friends and family aren’t just cheering me on. The twittersphere is too. Colleagues I’ve recently met on Future Leaders are messaging me with encouraging words. I am going into headship with #noislands.
Thirdly, I am me. It has taken me a while to realise this. I’ve met lots of fantastic headteachers but every time I try to be like them I fail. I am pretty good at being me and I have peace that that is enough. Yes, I’ve got lots to learn and I’m not the finished article. Nevertheless, I will just keep on becoming a better version of myself and no-one else.