Flight 2023 – very much a joint operation – is ready for take-off. Just like your staffroom on Monday, everyone is involved, with timetables, detailed year plan, updated organogram, job descriptions, class lists and textbook procedures all at hand. Very few schools have all this and key policies in place in time for day one, but then, few schools, like the airline calling Flight 2023, can boast full functionality. Actually, there should be no excuses. By the way, if you have everything in place, just know that you are doing your community and your country proud. 

On holiday, there comes a time in a principal’s mind when the festivity and the recharging end. The light turns to green; it’s time to press reset; and the New Year becomes the new School year. That switch happened about ten days ago. When you walk in on your day one, you bring with you that principal spark which lights a school’s energy, the excitement knowing that the campus will soon burst into life and promise, and the confidence provided by quality teamwork and detailed preparation.  

From the first moment, you focus on the relationships on which your school depends. Greet with sincerity, show genuine interest, connect enthusiastically with your team and your teachers in common purpose, in joint ownership and in the best interests of your school and its precious learners. Stress that you will face challenges and do the hard things that make good schools great, together. 

As the school’s leadership team, your job is to set the tone for the year, essentially by setting the example. Your body language, punctuality, preparedness and even your attire should send a powerful message. Commit to choosing enthusiasm daily. A positive staff mindset will improve efficiency and productivity. How your staff sees you, as a team, matters. Take care of the people in your smaller teams and strive to provide the climate to all to be the best they can be in 2023. 

Mark Heywood, the South African human rights and social justice campaigner, in a new year column entitled ‘In 2023, unleash your inner Imtiaz Sooliman’, wrote that transformation and activism are most impactful and enduring when they are addressing tangible issues and start in your own back yard and ripple outwards. 

Douglas Abrams goes further by saying that our ability to be generous influences our lasting well-being. He claims that there is ‘strong and compelling research that shows that we come factory equipped for cooperation, compassion and generosity’. Imagine a school’s staff bringing such a commitment to 2023. 

I can’t help thinking that, as a teacher, our own back yard is our classroom.  Julian Hewitt, CEO of the Jakes Gerwel Fellowship, identifies the classroom as a vehicle of change. Make the classroom the focus of your team’s effort in 2023. There’s no more tangible issue than transforming teaching in every classroom in your school.  

A UK teen newspaper, The Week Jnr, chose resilience as its word of 2022. Resilience is the ability to recover from difficulties and setbacks. At its heart is a Latin word ‘resiliens’ which means ‘leaping back’ because something which is resilient will spring back into shape and recover. Teach your school what resilience means and lead the leaping. Big steps. Small wins. 

As always at this time, I remind you, that a new year is a great opportunity for teachers, irrespective of their experience, to up their game.  A new intake, class or group means a teacher can start over and implement more effective classroom management and teaching techniques which can be entrenched within weeks. They should know exactly what they want to improve and how they will tackle and tweak that improvement. This applies to both better classroom discipline and improved methodology. 

Your Gr7s or Gr12s of 2022 are history. You have a new school community. That newness screams opportunity. Harness it to the full. Forge better routines, improved school discipline and a strong school spirit. Do it together. 

Fasten your seatbelts. 

Til next time. 




The Principals Academy Trust 


No:  01/23

12 January 2023