Understanding ourselves and our team to be the best we can be for our school
“As a team, we have a huge responsibility to provide an all-round education to our pupils which will enable them to flourish. We want to understand ourselves and our relationships as a staff team so we can work together effectively and serve our school community with confidence and compassion. C-Me has given us the knowledge and understanding of us as individuals, and how we relate to one another, in order to work as a resilient team. I would highly recommend any school team using C-Me as a tool to gain a deeper insight into their effectiveness, relationships and ultimately further enabling their school to flourish.”
Julie Rees, Headteacher Ledbury Primary School, Herefordshire
Ledbury Primary is a Values-based School nestled in the market town of Ledbury in Herefordshire. It is a successful school serving a diverse community which results in its feel being that of a truly comprehensive primary school. The school has approximately 450 pupils on roll with a local authority nursery attached that has places for 2-4-year-olds. The team of staff are dedicated, enthusiastic and aspire to be the best they can be so the school community enjoys coming to school and every pupil makes good progress from their starting point. Our Continuous Professional Development programme has centred around using research and looking for staff development that starts with our learning. Two new teachers joined us recently and some teachers have been teaching at Ledbury for 20 years, it was time for everyone to get to know themselves and each other.
I was fortunate to engage with a Resilience Leaders’ Course and Alex Webb was one of my colleagues also on the course. Previously, the staff had undertaken MBTI as a tool to understand our preferred style of working. In this instance, I was curious about the way Alex described C-Me and the way in which she was using it with teams. I knew the beginning of the school year would be an opportune moment for our team to explore C-Me, learn about ourselves and each other, then embed this knowledge across our school community. Over the holidays all staff engaged with the C-Me questionnaire and we were ready for our staff development day in September.
We decided that all teaching staff would engage with the C-Me programme and the senior leaders would have a more detailed workshop where their profiles were explored in greater depth. The first activity in using the four colours and the colour wheel was interesting as people were given an insight into how others perceived them and their role. We stood in one of the four colours and listened to Alex describing the attributes of people associated with each colour.
A few people felt they were in the wrong colour, but most identified with the attributes Alex was describing. It was insightful when we were given our colour wheel results after this activity and could see the balance of colours. The added interest came from seeing our adapted preferences, ie when we are in our role at work, against our natural profile. As a leadership team, we were able to be open and trusting as we unpicked beneath our profiles. Some of us shared our insecurities and we all clearly said how we prefer communication to work. The teachers were quite surprised when they saw where the leaders were on the wheel. They thoroughly enjoyed their exercises and the workshop was a lightbulb moment for many.
The results and impact
The main benefit has been in our ability to understand each other and improve our communication. This means really listening to each other and appreciating that there is always another way or view. We do smile when people write emails to address the colours e.g For the yellow people….! Everyone also understands that as leaders we have to be comfortable in moving across the colours. Sometimes, I have to be red and take direct action in the role of Headteacher. The majority of the time I am in the green zone, as the majority of my daily job is dealing with people. It has also made us further appreciate the strengths we have on our leadership team; thank goodness for those who have blue as a strength! The team wheel has also been a point of discussion and intrigue. The biggest impact has been seen in a recent communication we had to make to our support staff as with the onset of reduced school budgets, we have had to reduce support staff hours. We knew we had to cut the equivalent of 10 full-time support staff, fortunately, the majority of staff were on permanent-variable contracts which meant nobody would be made redundant. Over a period of a half term and using our knowledge of C-Me, we had several meetings and were able to clearly communicate to staff our reasoning, the current financial pressures on school and gauge which staff were able to adjust hours voluntarily. Although the outcome is upsetting as some staff have lost substantial hours, the process was fair and the ability to communicate openly was appreciated.
“The main benefit has been in our ability to understand each other and improve our communication. This means really listening to each other and appreciating that there is always another way or view.”
Recommendation and the way forward
As part of schools CPD, I would highly recommend that teams and senior leaders undertake C-Me profiling and use it as a tool to enhance the effectiveness of any team. It is a tool that supports our Values-based leader and, like values, it gives us a shared language when we are working together. We would love to think about C-Me with the wider school community. Perhaps our future leaders in their role of House Captains would benefit?
Alex Webb, Comment
Working with the teachers at Ledbury Primary School was a great experience, not only to help them discover more about themselves but to see the impact that a values-driven primary school can have on their pupils. I feel honoured to have been able to work with such a great group, who are led by one amazing leader in Julie Rees. Julie has removed marking and stickers from her school and leads with a growth mindset approach. Incredibly impactful.