More than a “sticking plaster”

Understanding the demands and identifying the resources to create sustainable senior leadership in Welsh education
Dr Ali Davies
Consultant Clinical Psychologist (Employee Well-being) 

The National Academy for Educational Leadership is committed to helping create a Welsh education system in which “the well-being of educational leaders is prioritised and systematically supported”. To inform this work, the National Academy for Educational Leadership undertook a national survey of school leaders in summer 2020 and received a response from over 1000 school leaders. The key findings of the report inspired the National Academy for Educational Leadership’s interest in the philosophy of Compassionate Leadership and how this could be used to facilitate a cultural shift in how the education system thinks about and supports the well-being of leaders in Wales. Working in partnership with Dr Benna Waites and Dr Adrian Neal, both Clinical Psychologists at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) Health Board the National Academy for Educational Leadership explored how the Welsh Health sector has embedded ‘Compassionate Leadership Principles’ into their practice in order to nurture a sustainable workforce, where employees can thrive.

This led to commissioning Dr Ali Davies, Clinical Psychologist at ABMU Health Board, to write an Insight Series paper, which further studied the findings of the well-being survey and explored the concept of compassionate leadership within the education sector. Dr Ali Davies’ paper, ‘More Than Just a Sticking Plaster’, was also informed by The All-Wales Strategy for the Well-being of Educational Leaders consultation group, consisting of representatives from across the education sector including schools, the middle tier, Welsh Government as well as health and education sector academics. ‘More Than Just a Sticking Plaster’ addresses the issues surrounding the well-being of educational leaders, as well as identifying recommendations that can be utilised by all tiers of the education sector to nurture a culture, where the well-being of leaders is prioritised. Dr Ali Davies shared highlights of the Insight Series paper during the National Academy for Educational Leadership 2022 annual well-being conference. We are now delighted to share the paper with you and the system.

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Dr Ali Davies Sketchnote

Artwork: Tom Bradshaw

Dr Ali Davies 

Ali initially studied Education at Cambridge University and after working closely with vulnerable young people in a range of UK settings and abroad she became interested in what shapes the way people see themselves and respond to others. This led to a desire to better understand peoples’ needs in order to help mitigate the impact of adversity upon development. She pursued a career in Clinical Psychology after obtaining a Masters in Psychology (Manchester University) and completed her training in 2012 (Universities of Coventry & Warwick). Ali has been working in the NHS since 2007 and particularly values combining individual therapy with working with the wider system to help people make sense of and alleviate psychological distress. She currently co-leads a 24/7 specialist mental health team supporting children that are looked after to move from residential provision into family settings. Experiencing a range of leadership styles has helped her to observe the impact that senior roles can have upon both the culture of an organisation and clinical outcomes. Ali is committed to values-based practice and in 2018 completed the ‘Mary Seacole Award’ (NHS Leadership Academy). Ali feels passionate about applying psychologically informed practice to create change in systems and empower individuals.