While many leaders can become pioneers in their field standing alone, for many others success is also owed to the team of people working around them. In the education sector, Gary Nott, the headteacher of St. Bede’s Catholic Primary School in Chadwell Heath, Redbridge, is one leader who has found teamwork to be a vital element of the school’s ability to continue to provide learning to its pupils remotely throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, and to prepare properly for the return of the academic year this month.
While Nott took the opportunity to sit down on the Leaders Council podcast and pay tribute to his dedicated colleagues, a sixth leading civil servant has relinquished their role in 2020 as Sir Jonathan Jones, the permanent secretary to the Government Legal Department, announced that he will be standing down in April.
Leadership in Focus
Speaking on the Leaders Council podcast, Gary Nott explained that his leadership model in running St. Bede’s Catholic Primary School was based around distributed leadership, where all of his senior leadership team are involved in operating the school.
Nott said: “A leader should be someone who inspires others. You cannot be a leader unless people follow you, so you must earn that allegiance through respecting others’ opinions. I am very much for distributed leadership. My senior leadership team consists of seven people who are involved in the running of the school and we share all details with each other. I am open with them and encourage others to be open too.”
Discussing how the school has coped with the demands of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nott took the opportunity to pay tribute to his staff for their commitment and dedication to continuing learning provision and getting the school ready for the full-time return of pupils, since their effort had helped him evenly distribute the challenge and make it one to truly relish as a chance to show the local community what the school is capable of accomplishing.
Nott explained: “I almost want to say that the Covid-19 period has been easy, because others have made it easy for me. I have a supportive parent base and a fantastic team of staff. People have rallied around me, been supportive and I have enjoyed the challenge of trying to meet the expectations people have of us.
“The remote learning provision for pupils at home throughout lockdown has been of the highest quality, and we are keen to take that as a positive, learn lessons from that and we want to incorporate it more going forward.”
The close collaboration required during the pandemic, in Nott’s view, has even brought his leadership team closer together than during the pre-pandemic days, and this unity holds them in good stead as they adjust to welcoming the school community back in earnest.
“I feel as though I know the people that I work with better than I did previously. I felt that I knew them very well even then, but people in some instances have surprised me with the level of their commitment. I have been so impressed with the spirit brought to the school by my team.
In the news this week, a sixth leading civil servant has stood down this year following the resignation of the government’s most senior lawyer.
The permanent secretary to the Government Legal Department, Sir Jonathan Jones, has announced his resignation and will step down in April at the end of his five-year term in the role.
A spokesman for the office of the Attorney General confirmed Sir Jonathan’s resignation but said that no further comment would be made.
The Financial Times, reporting Sir Jonathan’s decision to stand down, said that the decision was fuelled by “suggestions that [prime minister] Boris Johnson is trying to row back on parts of last year’s Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland”.
Sir Jonathan had been knighted in the December of last year in recognition of his work on constitutional issues and the EU Withdrawal Agreement itself that paved the way for Brexit in January this year.
The FT said that people “close to Sir Jonathan said he was 'very unhappy' about the decision to overwrite parts of the Northern Ireland protocol, part of the 2019 withdrawal agreement, with new powers in the UK Internal Market Bill.”
The government has recently denied that the Bill will effectively discard the Withdrawal Agreement.
Shadow attorney general Lord Falconer said that Sir Jonathan’s resignation came as a hint that “senior government lawyers think that the government is about to break the law.”
Leadership in History
On this day in 1974, US president Gerald Ford signed the pardon of his predecessor Richard Nixon for any crimes that Nixon may have committed during his time in office, relating in particular to the well-documented Watergate scandal.
The Watergate scandal, a political scandal involving the Nixon administration between 1972 and 1974, directly led to Nixon’s resignation as president. The scandal came about from the administration's continuous attempts to cover up its involvement in the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Washington, D.C. Watergate Office Building on June 17, 1972.
The arrests of the five perpetrators uncovered connections to the Nixon re-election campaign committee, and further revelations and presidential action against the investigation in 1973 saw the House of Representatives begin impeachment proceedings against the president.
The US Supreme Court ruled that Nixon had to release the Oval Office tapes to government investigators, which revealed that Nixon had conspired to cover up activities that occurred after the break-in and had attempted to use federal officials to impede the investigation.
The House Judiciary Committee then approved articles of impeachment against Nixon for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. With his part in the cover-up publicly revealed and his political support irreparably damaged, Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974, and was pardoned on September 8 of the following year.