Headteacher Blog // Tracey O'Brien
Tracey O'Brien will be joining the Trust as the new Headteacher at Wallington High School for Girls in September 2023.
My excitement is building…
With a change in leadership at a school as strong as Wallington, there are always questions about what a new Headteacher can bring, and what their focus might be. So I thought it would be good to share a few highlights from my past experience, and some of the values that underpin how I approach any job that I do.
March was a very special month for me as I secured the role of Headteacher at Wallington High School for Girls. Since then I have met several of the staff from the Trust Board team, our school reception and premises teams, and several staff. I have been greeted warmly by all and made to feel most welcome. This week I met the leadership team and spent time with each of them talking about their roles and their vision for the school. The meetings were really informative and helpful as I prepare myself fully for the role in September. Next week sees our first planning day together and I am excited by how much we can achieve as a team.
I’ve always been interested in how high performing teams work effectively and in my previous roles as a head teacher in a secondary school and my current experience as a head of a primary school, I have promoted ways of working which value individual strengths, that promote autonomy and trust, and celebrate difference. I have learned to listen as well as lead and I believe that leadership style is not fixed but changes according to the context. I have written courses for senior leaders around system leadership and how, as professionals, we are well-placed to work together in a challenging, yet supportive way.
Both professionally and personally I am really interested in educational research and being evidence informed leaders and practitioners. I have written and published several pieces about action research in schools and engaging staff from across the school, not just teachers, to look at what's out there in education, nationally and internationally. I fully appreciate that the success of our young people is supported across the school, by every member of the school community, making the school run effectively.
My first book ‘School Self Review - a sensible approach’ outlines my ethos around school accountability. Of course we hold each other to account for high standards and outcomes, but I am passionate about the ‘sensible’ way in which this occurs. I believe in intelligent accountability and bring this approach into all my work and thinking. My second book ‘Rethinking School Inspection’ continues with the theme of accountability being more system led valuing our workforce as the professionals they are.
What happens in the classroom is fundamental to student success and as an Advanced Skills Teacher I spent much of my time working across different schools supporting teachers to enhance their practice, and I really enjoy the instructional coaching approach to teacher development. I think it's important we trust our teachers to take risks and I am really excited by the possibilities that EdTech can bring to our sector.
What excites me most about this new role is the opportunity to learn from the staff and students about the school and to bring my experiences to lead the school with the dedication it deserves. Having attended a girls grammar school myself I fully appreciate the unique opportunity this type of school provides, where girls can thrive both personally and academically, and as the mother of a teenage daughter, the opportunity to support our students to take their place as full equals in society is very close to my heart. I can’t wait to meet everyone properly soon!
Incoming Headteacher (September 2023)
Wallington High School for Girls