Blog: Your First 100 Days – Being prepared for the new school year

In this blog series, you’ll hear from the author of ‘The First 100 Days’, Phil Denton, about the steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of success in the first 100 days of the new school year.

Regardless of whether you are taking over a new leadership role or looking to develop an existing one, this series will detail the steps that will help you start from an informed, confident and strategic place.

Phil developed his knowledge of best practice in this area through his own experiences of being a Headteacher, Deputy, Assistant, Year Lead and Head of Department. He enhanced this understanding by working with football managers who have had successful 100 days in the English Premier League. He has also worked with successful manager Micky Mellon and spoke with business leaders from the world of accounts, travel and industry. All of this experience and these lessons will be condensed and shared with you at regular intervals to provoke thought, reflection and action.

Provoking thought, reflection and generating action is the core purpose of Evaluate-Ed. Follow this series and take a free trial to see how you can improve your school and everyone in it through an informed and strategic approach. Click here for your free trial.

Being prepared for the new school year

In order to get yourself to a flying start in a new role, you should begin by gaining an understanding of the situation you will be entering. Whether a new or existing role, you can always gain more insight or alterative perspectives regardless of how well you feel you know the circumstances you will inherit.

How can you do this?

Seeing the big picture

It is true to say that different situations require different approaches. Whether you are dealing with an individual child or a whole MAT, understanding your audience and their current position is fundamental to a successful message being delivered.

One model used widely in business is the STARS model. This refers to five stages of an organisation’s journey that your department, school, college or MAT might find itself in.

Start-Up Turnaround Accelerated Growth Realignment Sustaining Success
Here you are beginning at the start. There is no pre-existing culture within your team and a lot of your early work will be around setting the direction of travel, establishing team values and clear objectives. Often in leadership, we inherit a situation that requires rapid improvement for the benefit of everyone involved. Turnarounds require clear goals, clarity of action and relationships based on a cohesion around the aim. Those not capable of the change or who are unwilling to support the change must be addressed quickly with support and often difficult conversations. Things are going well, but could be even better. Here it is crucial to celebrate the positive extensively and utilise the strengths within to garner a collaborative team invested in the extra work or efficiencies required for school improvement. Basing this around better outcomes and opportunities for children is always a powerful and purposeful basis for change. Performance here maybe solid but there may be a fragmented team who feel they have been let down and may have come away from the vision and values of the school. Realignment is emotional and requires colleagues to feel ownership and empowerment towards a goal which they have helped create. Understanding before being understood underpins this. Some say this is the hardest situation as things are already very positive. There will always be things to improve and develop but there is no burning issue that requires immediate attention. In these settings, take time to really understand why success has been achieved and more often than not, your colleagues will lead the way for further development.

You can use the Educational Environment section of Evaluate-Ed to gain an understanding of the starting point for your school, college or MAT.


If you have chance to speak to your new team, you may start off with a SWOT analysis. I prefer not to use the ‘SW’ and get straight to the ‘OT’! The strengths and weaknesses are something to come back to, but they are limited to people’s opinions and are also a product of the past. By focussing on the opportunities and threats of your team, you are immediately looking forward.

Through conducting this analysis, you will begin to see the position you and your colleagues believe you are in. The responses or discussions which will be shared can help you to understand the emotional temperature and morale of the team. Once again, informing the actions you take and the work you can do around supporting and guiding each colleague you will be working alongside. Illustrating your discussions using a visual format like the one below will help to deliver focussed discussion and reference further down the line.

Develop your school assessment by completing the SEF question on Evaluate-Ed and generate automatic reports to track your progress.

Reflection tasks

  1. What is the point on the STARS model that you are inheriting?
  2. How does your team see the future in terms of the opportunities and threats that lay ahead?
  3. In what ways will this influence the way you approach your role in September?


Phil is a Headteacher as well as an author, having written ‘The First 100 Days’, a story about what we can learn from Premier League managers about being successful over your first 100 days in a role and beyond. Phil has had several articles published in the SecEd magazine.

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