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7 Questions with David Coaché
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with David Coaché
Name: David Coaché
Current title: Executive Headteacher/ CEO
Current organisation: Bengeworth Trust
Over twenty years as a teacher, leader and Headteacher in a range of school contexts in London and The Midlands. Currently leading the growth of a newly established education trust to increase excellence through collaboration.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader in the education sector?
Increased financial accountability alongside diminishing funding.
2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Start at 7.30am and check in with leaders to ensure everyone’s day is as expected. Any face to face meetings and events take place during the mornings. Always have lunch with different people - children, teachers, admin team etc. Zooms and calls during the afternoons and check in with leads again before finishing at 5. Any board meetings tend to be 5.30-7pm via Zoom as a lot of volunteers attend. Catch up on emails until 9pm. I may do some prep on a Sunday night, but do no other work on weekends.
3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Recruit carefully and develop trust. If you’ve got great people doing the right things well, and you all understand the purpose, it doesn’t feel like working.
4. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. A hugely affirming read for anyone with a vision that doesn’t fit with the status quo, and a lesson in the need to communicate effectively to avoid conflict becoming a distraction.
5. How do you find and keep great leaders in the education sector?
Let them lead. Trust their judgement. Stand beside them and not in the way.
6. What's most important as a leader in the education sector for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?
Listen to your people. Resolve problems. Invest in their knowledge and skill development. If you can create an organisation committed to helping everyone to do the best job they possibly can, they will do the best job they possibly can.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader in the education sector so far?
When I was working as a teacher in London, I had to explain to my Year 6 class that the next day a visitor would be coming to see me about a job leading another school. At the time, jeans and a T-shirt were standard and there was no uniform, so I didn’t want them to find it funny when they saw me wearing a suit for the first time. When they asked why I needed to wear a suit, I simply explained that it was respectful to dress well and make a good impression if you’re meeting someone new. The next morning I went to collect my class to walk them in, fully expecting them to snigger and make remarks about my appearance. To my astonishment, every pupil had dressed in their best clothing, saris and suits. Startled, I asked why they had dressed so well and the pupil proudly leading the line into school replied, ‘You are showing respect for your visitor, and so we must do the same’. Since then, I have always asked pupils to meet and show visitors around my schools. The lesson for me then was that anyone you lead will treat other people in the way you show them. Lead people by treating them well, and that is the culture that will be cultivated in your organisation.