“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker

Being the leader of a successful school draws upon specialised expertise that one would need to have cultivated over time.

As the head of The English School, Kuwait, Kieron Peacock has mastered both efficiency and effectiveness when it comes to his leadership skills.

Kieron has enjoyed a rewarding career in education, which started thirty-seven years ago in his hometown of Nottingham, England.

His teaching experience also includes several successful years at University College School in London, Saltus Grammar School, Bermuda, and at Port Regis in Dorset, one of the UK’s leading prep boarding schools, where he was also Deputy Head.

In 2001, Kieron became an ISI Inspector and has served on their international inspection panel for the past three years.

His desire to teach abroad once again resulted in his appointment as Head of The English School (TES) in Kuwait in 2013.

Once settled at TES, and with the school firmly established as a well-respected member of the BSME, Kieron noted that there was very little liaison among the IAPS (The Independent Association of Prep Schools) in the region. In a bid to promote the sharing of good practice and collaboration among the schools, he worked tirelessly with colleagues to accomplish the ratification of IAPS ME as a fully-fledged district in September 2016.

He is currently District Representative (Chair) for the 14 member schools located across the region (UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey, Cairo and Kuwait).

Kieron has unlocked the key to doing things right and continues to do the right things in maintaining, developing and promoting TES as an exceptional school. The work that he and the other schools are doing exemplify sharing good practice in lifting education standards not only across the region, but the globe. Let’s get to know a bit more about Mr Kieron Peacock.

Who inspires you most?

My greatest inspiration comes from watching others teach. Throughout my teaching career and as an inspector, each time I observe someone teaching, I learn something new. Young and newly qualified teachers also bring huge amounts of energy, enthusiasm and ideas into schools, which freshens things up. Education has always been in a state of flux and always will be, and you can learn just as much from those new to the profession as you can from experienced professionals.

What advice would you give to a teacher who is struggling with work life harmony?

In all schools, work-life balance and well-being are very much on the radar, for staff and pupils, and there is no ‘one size fits all’. At the start of the school year, I always remind staff, regardless of their role in the school, to identify peak weeks, days and events where 100% effort will be required. Working at 100% all of the time is impossible and will cause burnout. So, plan your time, lessons and workload smartly. There are no easy teaching jobs these days. By understanding your own psyche and approach; by evaluating your teaching and additional work commitments; by having strong and dedicated support from colleagues, you should be able to keep life on a fairly even keel. All staff should try to have some ‘me’ time as an inked in appointment during every week. Whether that be coffee with a friend, a trip to the cinema, dinner at your favourite restaurant, a workout or two at the gym, or anything that takes you away from that school mind-set. It refreshes mind and soul, allows time for reflection and helps you to keep things in perspective. Often, after a good night’s sleep, what seemed like an insurmountable problem the previous day now seems small. Distancing yourself both physically and mentally from the problem invariably helps this.

Share 3 things that you do to keep staff motivated throughout the school year.

1. Celebrating staff successes and achievements is also an important way of recognising and maintaining motivation.

2. Avoiding micromanagement and allow staff, middle managers and senior managers to make decisions and trust their judgements.

3. Lunchtime treats every half term or so from outside caterers always go down extremely well with staff and often help, for a short while, to relieve work pressures.

I also handwrite personal thank you notes to members of staff in recognition of individual achievements and work done above and beyond the call of duty. As one head teacher once said at a leadership seminar, ‘If you can’t find at least three people on the staff team to write to and thank at the end of each working week, then you aren’t looking hard enough and you are certainly not in tune with your school and what the staff do!’

What gadget do you use most? how does it assist in making your personal and professional life easier?

I work from a ‘stand-up’ desk made-to-measure by the school’s carpenter. This means that I am more likely to keep moving and to get out and about, as well as helping my posture. On my desk, I have my laptop, iPad and iPhone, all of which I quite happily work from. They are all synced to my diary and my school’s Google account. I usually have my iPhone and sometimes my iPad with me when I am visiting classes during lessons or interacting with students, staff or parents. The school’s daily routines revolve around the use of technology and I like to be in touch with what is going on. However, the school does have an unofficial ‘no work emails in the evenings or at weekends’ policy unless it is about something very important.

What is the greatest life lesson that you have learnt as an educator?

My greatest life lesson as an educator is a simple one – listen to others. If you listen to others you may well learn something new. If you spend your whole life talking and not listening you only regurgitate what you already know.

Share one fun thing about you that would surprise your staff.

My love of cooking… One of my greatest forms of relaxation is spending time in the kitchen preparing dinner to share with family and friends. Woe, betide anyone who uses my beloved Wüsthof knives without carefully checking with me first!

What is the best advice that you have received and how has this helped you?

The best advice I’ve received from a friend and very experienced head, was to only worry about the controllable. If you can’t control factors, worrying about them will make no difference. I place tasks, thoughts and concerns into mental boxes, keeping the lids open if I can do something about the content. This has helped me to prioritise and cope with workload, especially when managing more challenging situations. Equally important is to deal with a problem as soon as I am able, even if it is by communicating a holding pattern. Otherwise, it may grow to become a ‘monster’ and much more of a challenge.

By Carolyn Lee