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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, written to empower school leaders, ‘The UnHappy Headteacher’ by Nadia Hewstone hit the top of the Amazon charts in 8 education categories.

Nadia Hewstone

Nadia Hewstone on The Table Read Magazine
Nadia Hewstone

Mum of two from Norwich, Nadia Hewstone, swapped 25 years of teaching and leadership roles to follow her passion to empower school leaders, and now her book ‘The UnHappy Headteacher’ has hit the top of the Amazon charts as number 1 in 8 education categories.

The ex Headteacher turned coach is on a mission to positively influence the education system and increase inclusivity in our schools and society, through adopting more of a coaching approach to their work.  A challenging headship, personal experiences of not getting support with her neurodiverse children, and a desire to impact more widely on the system, led Nadia to set up Destino Coaching, focused on supporting Headteacher to be instrumental in shaping a more coaching focused education system. After coaching over 200 Headteacher, Nadia is sharing her mission nationally to impact more Headteacher, school and children.

Headteachers are operating within a broken system, brought about by year-on-year income reduction in funding. This is compounded by rising pressures to compensate for other public services, which are also in crisis. These facts now need to be considered in all aspects of decision-making in schools. This does not mean you need to be sad, downtrodden or beaten but you do need to be pragmatic.

-Nadia Hewstone

Helping Head Teachers

Having had to fight for every tiny bit of support for her two neurodiverse children, inspirational Nadia has a true understanding of the great challenges that parents face, as well as the complexities of the education system, which often fail children and parents alike. After spending years advocating for her children – one of whom she was told would never succeed in a mainstream school – both have thrived and are now on the pathway to university and great success – Nadia sees this as an example of what can be done when more individual approaches are taken. 

These personal experiences are the reason why she is passionate about supporting school leaders to view neurodiverse children as different, rather than broken, and to campaign for inclusivity in our schools and society.

This desire shaped her own commitments to inclusion as a Headteacher herself, when she led a challenging school that was in the bottom 2% of academic performance when she arrived.  Quickly realising that the only way to lead was to be the best person that she could possibly be, she embarked on a counselling training course.  As a result the percentage of pupils with special educational needs at her school who achieved age related expectations, increased year on year, under her driven leadership.  

This was the start of her coaching journey and her realisation that coaching approaches were a powerful tool for empowering Headteacher and improving the education for our children and young people.

We need to hold on to our Headteacher. Understanding the key challenges facing the profession and developing strategies to support them is essential if we want to keep schools running. I have written this book for Headteacher to tackle the problems that lead to personal and professional defeat. It will give them practical tools as well as a challenge to their thinking.

-Nadia Hewstone
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Importance Of Education

Nadia’s home life was very different to many who attend university – brought up in a single parent family on an estate where few children even finish school – she used her love of learning to spur her on to achieve a degree, followed by a postgraduate qualification in secondary education and a Masters in Educational Management. 

Experiencing these challenges has driven Nadia to see education as a path to enable social mobility and inclusion at every level – a passion that, along with her parenting experiences of two neurodiverse children, underpins her mission to build a fairer society.

Combining her teaching, leadership and personal experiences, Nadia is able to challenge and support Headteachers in a truly unique way to develop coaching approaches, which will retain teachers, strengthen school leadership, promote inclusivity, and importantly, provide our youth with the best opportunities to reach their potential.

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Headteachers have the power to influence culture beyond their schools. We have to keep building school cultures that serve young people, which in turn influence the communities around them. We foster this key concept through the mentorship and coaching of new headteachers and deputy headteachers.

-Nadia Hewstone

Destino Coaching

The pandemic lockdown in 2020 provided Nadia with space to re-evaluate her life and career, resulting in the realisation that her passion was to widely support Headteachers, and schools that want to develop coaching approaches.  She wholeheartedly believes that coaching approaches will retain teachers, strengthen school leadership, and serve our children and young people.

Shortly after the pandemic, Nadia left headship to work full-time as a coach and established Destino Coaching.  In a relatively short space of time, she has created a team of three coaches who offer 1:1 coaching to support Headteachers to achieve their big dreams for their school, without compromising their health.

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In addition, Destino Coaching runs a group programme for Headteachers called LEAP, and a Coaching in Schools programme which supports Headteachers to implement coaching approaches in schools at all levels.

My greatest success has been Supporting over 200 Headteachers to navigate within a broken system and still find joy in the role. But it doesn’t end there.  Destino Coaching is still growing and I am adding more programmes in the future, including a Wellbeing in School Programme which will be designed and delivered in conjunction with clinical psychologists.

I am on a mission to empower Headteachers as I believe you have the power to unlock positive potential in our society. Through my experience, I have identified the two most common reasons people leave headship – burnout and boredom. In this book, I share strategies to help Headteachers to prevent both and to find joy in the role.

-Nadia Hewstone

Top 5 Steps To Avoid Burnout

Our well-being is inside of us all and by tuning in to ourselves, we can counter some of the things that lead to burnout, lessening the impact on our lives and our work.

-Nadia Hewstone

Here are the main signs you are heading for a fall:

  • Feeling tired or drained most of the time
  • Feeling helpless, trapped or defeated
  • Feeling alone in the world
  • Having a negative outlook
  • Self-doubt
  • Procrastinating and taking longer to get things done
  • Feeling overwhelmed
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1. Do not resign!

The autonomic nervous system has two components: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system functions like the accelerator pedal in a car. It triggers the fight-or-flight response, providing the body with a burst of energy so it can respond to perceived dangers. Your body actually thinks your life is under threat and so resignation seems sensible. However, your life is unlikely to be in immediate danger and

making a big decision based on false information may not serve you when you reach emotional safety. You may well decide to resign further down the road to recovery but now isn’t the right time, even though it feels like it is.

2. Secure your safety

You cannot make decisions or manage effectively when you re in an emotional crisis. I recommend the following steps to secure your emotional safety as quickly as possible:

  • Prioritise your basic care needs. Drink water, eat food, go to the toilet and sleep for a minimum of eight hours each night.
  • Grieve. Make space to acknowledge things have not turned out as you planned. Allow yourself time to be sad or cry until you can reach some level of acceptance from which to take the next step.
  • Surround yourself with people who make you feel supported and safe. Make time to see and speak with the people who make you feel seen, heard and supported.
  • Create space. Taking some time off work, even one week, will make a significant difference to how you feel. You need space away from the trigger in order to process its impact. Cancel plans and delay errands and engagements outside of work too. This reduces distraction and noise at the time you most need space for your emotions to stabilise.

3. Get help

When friends and family ask what they can do, allocate them chores or childcare support – reduce all the demands on you as much as you possibly can. Buy in support if you can afford it. This is important for three reasons:

  • It gives a signal to the body that you are out of danger, as there is no pressure on you or your time. Then you can think more clearly.
  • It makes more of the space you have created so that you can stabilise more quickly.
  • It helps you accept that you are in crisis and that pushing on is not an option.

4. Focus on yourself

Make the time and space you’ve created count. Focus on you unapologetically for set times each day and, if possible, large chunks of time. You may find it helpful to work with a professional counsellor or coach to get the maximum benefit from this.

Intellifluence on The Table Read Magazine

5. Connect with your well-being

Listen to your body and respond to its needs. Will a gentle walk feel nourishing? Are you thirsty or tired? Check-in with yourself frequently and identify your care needs.

If you follow these steps, you should feel more grounded within a week or two but sometimes it might take longer. This does not mean you’re ‘fixed’. It means you can start to manage some tasks, put a recovery plan in place and consider what your next steps might be with more clarity.

After a crash, it is a long road to recovery. While you will grow and learn from the experience, you can avoid it altogether by stepping in now and taking your mental and physical health seriously. Preventing burnout is part of your success criteria, as you can only achieve your goals if you are there to do so. Headteachers work in a high-pressure environment and will burn out if their only strategy is to work at their capacity limit for sustained periods while ignoring their well-being needs.

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