St Albans head teacher shortlisted for Britain's Best Boss

PUBLISHED: 13:01 28 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010

A HEADTEACHER responsible for rapidly turning around a special support school has been shortlisted in this year s Britain s Best Boss Competition. The Links Education Support Centre, which supports children who have been excluded, are at risk of exclusion

A HEADTEACHER responsible for rapidly turning around a special support school has been shortlisted in this year's Britain's Best Boss Competition.

The Links Education Support Centre, which supports children who have been excluded, are at risk of exclusion, or have emotional or behavioural difficulties, barely scraped a 'satisfactory' Ofsted rating before Tracey Healy took over the reigns three years ago.

There were only six children on its roll managed by 12 demoralised staff who were working out of a run-down building in Batchwood Drive, St Albans.

But now the picture couldn't be any more different - it has 40 staff with 100-plus students in new and improved premises in Woollam Crescent, in New Greens.

And Tracey's magnificent transformation has been recognised by Ofsted, who have rated the school as 'outstanding' and at level one in every category.

Anna Pool, head of English at Links, nominated Tracey for Britain's Best Boss, run by work/life balance charity Working Families, which is supported by BT.

Anna said: "She has done the most amazing job in leading this school. We work with some very challenging and troubled pupils and she has made this school a place they want to be. Both the kids and staff have a huge amount of respect for her because, although she is tough, they know she cares deeply about the children."

Tracey began work at the centre after getting fed up with the constant marking resulting from her senior management job in mainstream schooling. And even though the move meant a career demotion and a pay cut, she felt she had something more to give.

She attributes much of her success at Links to promoting staff well-being as central to the centre's working ethos.

She said: "Working with challenging and emotionally charged young people can be stressful and I encourage staff to use flexi-time to keep on top of pressures. All staff have one 'occasional day' to use as an extra well-being holiday.

"Our high staff levels mean they can cover for each other when family commitments and unexpected events crop up and we never use supply staff. As a result we have very little sickness absence and the young people have continuity of care."

Of her own work-life balance, Tracey said: "I know what it's like to have challenges as a parent as I have an adopted son. Managers often feel they have to set an example of working really hard but this can be very punishing. Down time is crucial and giving yourself permission to have similar flexi-time and benefits as the staff is important.


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