Wholesome Leadership: The Heart, Head, Hands & Health of School Leaders

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Wholesome Leadership: The Heart, Head, Hands & Health of School Leaders

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Spanning the comprehensive perspective of self, school and system, this tour-de-force is both well-informed and uplifting whilst at the same time being full of practical advice and guidance, rooted in the author’s front-line role leading a school.


Spanning the comprehensive perspective of self, school and system, this tour-de-force is both well-informed and uplifting whilst at the same time being full of practical advice and guidance, rooted in the author’s front-line role leading a school.

Tom Rees’s depth of thinking and knowledge of leadership, and his ability to translate that into both a structure and tone that will be relevant to leaders in schools today, will resonate with leaders at levels.

The book is brilliantly supplemented with the thoughts and views of colleagues spanning the whole educational spectrum, including: Sir David Carter, Andy Buck, Stuart Lock, Clare Sealy, Daisy Christodoulou, to MAT CEOs, Julia Kedwards, Stephen Tierney and Andrew Morrish, plus his very own actual dad!

With illustrations by the brilliant Oliver Caviglioli.

About the author

Tom Rees is Executive Headteacher at Simon de Senlis Primary School and works across 11 primary schools as the Education Director of Northampton Primary Academy Trust. He is a former Advanced Skills Teacher with 17 years of school leadership across different contexts, counties and countries. Tom has also experienced life in industry via an 18 month secondment in the EdTech industry working alongside schools, academies, local authorities and multi-national companies.

Continue the conversation about wholesome school leadership with Tom on Twitter at @tomrees_77 or via his blog -


"This is a fascinating book packed full of insights about teaching and leadership. It addresses the challenges around creating practical and research-based school systems, building a strong culture and ethos, and staying true to your purpose in the face of changing national policies. The focus on primary education is particularly valuable in a field often dominated by secondary leaders." — Daisy Christodoulou, Director of Education, No More Marking

"At a time when the teaching profession is crying out for strong leadership, this book comes as a hugely useful roadmap. Filled with valuable insights from the author’s own experience in leadership, interviews with inspirational school leaders and heavily informed by evidence, ‘Wholesome Teaching’ is a must read for anyone working in a leadership role." — Carl Hendrick, Director of Research, Wellington College

"This book fizzes with an authentic and human voice. Honest and useful - it will serve all leaders and those thinking about leadership really well. I'm pleased too that this distinctive voice is from our fantastic primary sector." Ty Goddard, Director, The Education Foundation

"Tom has written a great book, full of wisdom and insight. The book speaks both to the heart and the mind and and truly explores the complexities of leading a school. Based on experience that comes from getting it right and wrong this is a must have for prospective and current school leaders that will help you challenge and explore the work you do." Simon Smith - Primary Headteacher

"This is a warm, brilliant hug of a book which was a pleasure to read from start to finish! With honesty, humility and humour Tom has written a clever joyful mixture of anecdotes, quotations and interviews as well as providing pragmatic models, helpful protocols and practical tips and tools which will have a positive impact in our schools. The pictures and diagrams by Oliver Caviglioli are another highlight in this book and uniquely include four visualised managerial processes that will be hugely useful to every Senior Leadership Team! Wholesome Leadership is a book I will certainly want to come back to again and again as well as using as a starting point for shared discussion with other members of the senior leadership team to help us reflect on and review our practice. With a balance of real life expert examples from colleagues I greatly admire and theoretical thinking, this book offers opportunity for reflection across three important domains of Leadership - Self, School and System. I would recommend Wholesome Leadership to anyone in a leadership role in school, including experienced heads but one that as a new headteacher I can see would be a great source of advice as well as encouragement!" — Rae Snape Headteacher of The Spinney Primary School Cambridge/National Leader of Education

"An utterly compelling account of leadership through the lens of research and individual leaders. All of them with their unique stories, insights and wisdom. Tom talks about Peter Hall Jones making him fall in love with the profession. Reading this book will make us all fall in love again…" — Mary Myatt

“This is a must read for all current and aspiring school leaders. Tom writes with great authenticity and skill, balancing theory, relevant first-hand experience and useful strategies to take away. This book is personal in style and very accessible - for me it was extremely useful, informative and incredibly relevant.“ — Jon Watson Headteacher, North Yorkshire

"In Wholesome Leadership, Tom Rees invites you to become the best version of yourself; the authentic leader you are called to be. With the help of some wonderful contributors, Tom uses his H4 Model - heart, head, hands and health - to explore and reflect, with the reader, on the multifaceted complex role of leading a school today. I love the "Five Fives" grids as a way of moving from reflection, to action to impact in a sustainable way. Thoroughly recommended to current and future leaders.” — Stephen Tierney, Headteacher, MAT CEO & Chair of Headteacher Rountable

"Whether you are doubting entering primary school leadership, jilted by your current headship or would simply welcome the perspective of another colleague, you need to make this the first purchase on your planned reading list. Tom was a first class primary teacher and has been successful in headship.”— Craig Jones, Principal – Haywood Village Academy

"This is the book I would have loved when a deputy or head teacher. Management books can be either rather dull or too celebratory of personal successes. By contrast, Tom’s book strikes a very human tone that is both touching and effective.”— Oliver Cavliglioli

"A book of humble wisdom from a master of evidence-based educational research and a self-help manual for the often lonely world of school leadership. Full of practical advice and guidance, it is a perfect dip-in, dip-out read for school leaders of varying experience and expertise. A ‘must read’ for every experienced or aspiring leader!”— Julia Kedwards Multi Academy Trust CEO

“Wholesome Leadership is a great read for leaders in any educational setting and at any stage of a leader’s career. Tom Rees draws on his experience as an Executive Headteacher and Education Director at a Multi- Academy Trust to set out a very clear and practical model for school leaders to develop an authentic approach to leadership.Tom reflects on his varied personal experiences of being a parent, teacher and leader advocating more sustainable model of leadership that focuses on the importance of building the right ethos and culture in a school to ensure that day by day improvements are made. The book acknowledges the complex nature of schools and never goes for easy answers. It is full of good sense and practical suggestions with reference to current research and theoretical models. What Tom provides is pragmatic advice that makes you think and consider your own practice. Wholesome Leadership is an accessible and insightful read and is highly recommended for those currently in leadership positions in school or looking to develop their leadership skills to move into a new role.” — Andrew Percival, Deputy Headteacher, Oldham

“What I really love about this book (and trust me, there’s plenty) is how Tom has managed to combine effortlessly some really big, complex ideas with such simplicity. Obviously, the illustrations help, but the narrative is crystal clear and easy for any experienced or aspiring school leader to dip in and out of. Above all though, the book reeks of authenticity and warmth, which in today’s ever-changing climate is very welcome indeed. (Oh, and any leadership book that quotes Han Solo, is fine by me and long overdue.)” — Andrew Morrish, Chief Executive, Victoria Academies Trust and author of The Art of Standing Out.

“In reading and talking with Tom Rees, he is the epitome of modesty. But this is an ambitious and inspiring book. It draws on values based leadership from within education and beyond. The book reminds us that for both teachers and pupils, a great education is far more that a progress 8 score. Rather, it enriches lives and advances society. The book is written from a primary perspective, which provides fresh vista. It quickly dispels any notion that Wholesome Leadership is a soft option. Everyone going into school leadership will be told to ‘live your values’. Wholesome Leadership explains how. Much credibility comes from the lack of certainties that Tom writes about: ‘Learning is invisible’. There are many occasions where the reader is likely to be uncomfortable about well intention practices that have had little impact on learning or school improvement. Every school in the country should talk more about such things. Ultimately, Wholesome leadership is a book about people. If Ministers had used it as a model for education reform over the past eight years, our system would be in a far better place. This is a book for every leader in every school in England.” — Marc Rowland, Head of Rosendale Research School and author of Learning Without Labels


Additional Information

Author Tom Rees
ISBN 9781911382706
No of pages 256
Format Paperback
Publication Date 28 May 2018

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