Challenge and support: finding the balance

Get clarity on how to hold school leaders to account while supporting them to reach their targets, and see how this works in practice.

Last reviewed on 11 July 2023
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 35104
  1. Challenge and support: what it means
  2. How to challenge
  3. How to support
  4. Get the balance right: example
  5. Nail your questions: example
  6. Discover more questions you can ask

Challenge and support: what it means

Challenge and support are intertwined. It’s about pushing for improvement and setting aspirational targets, and then supporting leaders to achieve them.

In a nutshell you'll:

  • Challenge your school leaders by asking hard questions to hold them to account. This is a key part of your role, and your leaders will be expecting it
    • But you should challenge them on what they’re doing in their role, rather than them as individuals – don’t make it personal
  • Support your leaders by asking what the problems are and what they need to succeed, then really listen to them and do all you can to get that support in place

How to challenge

Challenge involves asking questions, but it shouldn't feel like an interrogation. Think carefully about:

For example, if your school appears to be doing exceptionally

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