Catherine McHale

SI Style (Supporter/Influencer)

Alison Clegg

At the HELM (Headship, Education & Leadership Matters) Ltd. was established to support, develop, and nurture leaders in education to excel in their roles.

My career and work experience has been varied: from running multi-award-winning family care home businesses; to becoming a teacher, then Headteacher; and latterly, a return to working with my husband in our Business Coaching Practice. 

It is the combination of these experiences that have led me to fully understand the complexities and challenges of leading an organisation and enabled me to provide knowledgeable and accessible support to other leaders in education.

I have experienced the problems that all leaders face; difficulties in recruiting and managing a quality team, challenging budgets, not to mention the ever-changing external pressures to raise standards with never quite enough time to do it all. Leading a school of serious weakness from an ‘Inadequate’ position to that of ‘Good’ for the first time ever, demonstrates invaluable skills in developing systems strongly focused on quality of teaching and learning, aspirational target setting and robust tracking to accelerate the rate of progress for all children.

I now use this knowledge and experience with leaders and together we create plans for continuous improvement. Underpinning all our work is a commitment to ongoing professional development to increase personal and team effectiveness…all with strong professional support, clear action, and compassionate accountability.

How can I help you?
The extreme pressure school leaders are under can be overwhelming and that is where I can help. I put Headteachers, school leaders, middle leaders, and governors first, providing a safe and supported space to be open about what is going well; a space to ask for help; to understand areas that need developing; as well as a space to find ways to overcome the challenges they face, whether it be to do with systems, strategy, improving communication, teamwork or education.

Leaders can select from a range of services to suit their needs including: 1:1 support, group coaching, weekly Q&A webinars and remote support sessions.

How I work:
When working with school leaders, I listen, nurture, educate, mentor, coach, develop and challenge. I do so with care and compassion and my expert support is targeted to the individual and what is needed at any point in time.

My support is about empowering leaders so that they are equipped and confident to be the best they can be, all whilst retaining their passion and purpose to provide the best education for the children in their care. I am like the Nanny McPhee of school leadership… “When you need me, but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go.”

Interesting facts about me:
• I married my childhood sweetheart who was my best friend from 5 years of age.
• When growing up in the family Care Home business, I found it odd that others only had two grandmothers!
• I achieved 10th in the World Irish Dancing Championships (long before Riverdance increased its popularity) and love Irish music, dancing, singing and having the craic.
• I love a challenge and being told something isn’t possible… it isn’t possible yet!

Catherine made me realise that there were more efficient ways to fulfill my role helping people in my team. She made me see things in a different light. A huge benefit to me was the fact that she is an ex-headteacher and therefore had a really clear insight into how life is in my situation.

Zoe Baxter

Catherine has a real passion and empathy for people and really listens. She nurtures people to identify their potential and is not only encouraging but driven to ensure success. I feel much more confident and positive. Her support to me has been invaluable and I urge others to reach out to her. 

Claire Maiho