This practical and engaging course will provide effective strategies to evidence the Three ‘I’s of intent, implementation and impact in leadership and the support of positive behaviours for staff and student wellbeing, as described in current OfSTED guidance for inspection. You will explore strategies to effectively deal with ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ issues through opening lines, questioning tips, interaction strategies; and deescalation techniques; and develop reasoning skills to turn around difficult and demanding situations, build an effective skill-base to defuse aggression, handle bullies, complacency, complainers; and support staff and student mental health and wellbeing post pandemic. Participants will take away a wealth of practical strategies, informed by psychological understanding, to deal with difficult conversations and situations effectively, and with confidence, confidentiality, care, and compassion.

This course can also be brought into your school, and tailored accordingly, if required.


  • Explore the drivers for tackling difficult situations and creating a positive professional ethos for
    both staff and students.
  • Investigate practical leadership strategies to manage behaviour to prevent difficult situations
  • Gain skills in assertiveness, evidence gathering, effective questioning and target setting to tackle underachievement and complacency.
  • Understand how to create win win outcomes and success based solutions.
  • Know how to evidence the effective leadership of challenging behaviours and ensure that staff and student wellbeing is at the forefront.
COURSE DATES Online | Wednesday 30 June 2021
London | Tuesday 12 October 2021
  • New and recently appointed Pastoral Leads, and those moving into post in September.
  • Experienced Pastoral Leads.
  • Heads of House/Heads of Year.
  • Pastoral Lead Line Managers.
  • Members of governing bodies, with a brief for wellbeing/mental health, including staff governors.
  • Mental Health & Wellbeing Leads.
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an in-school course
  • A specially prepared folder of 50+ pages full of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • CPD Certificate of attendance


10.00 – 10.45am
Why we need difficult conversations

  • Current Ofsted expectations for the intent, implementation and impact of leadership and behaviour in tackling difficult issues whilst supporting staff mental health and well-being.
  • Unlock the psychology of difficult conversations by exploring confrontation risks and benefits.
  • Getting the right mindset: overcoming the need to be liked.
  • Learn to break habits and exit comfort zones.

10.45 – 11.30pm
Ways to avoid aggression and defensiveness

  • Using evidence-based conversations to handle defensive feelings and aggression.
  • Engaging anger management techniques to help maintain composure and control.
  • Developing de-escalation techniques including calmness, body language, positioning, and assertive language
  • Tackle difficult conversations assertively and confidently by understanding how to behave, look and talk assertively without being aggressive.

11.30 – 11.45pm

Discussion: coffee break

11.45 – 12.30pm
Extending your skill-base for tacking difficult situations confidently

  • Practical tools and techniques to maximise outcomes so that both parties end in a ‘win win’ situation.
  • Developing communication and response skills that help us turn difficult conversations into positive outcomes.
  • Examples of useful language that calms, deflects, and starts to resolve difficult situations.
  • How to say ‘no’ and mean it in an assertive way without resorting to negative aggression.
  • Case studies

12.30- 1.30pm

Lunch and informal discussion

1.30 – 2.15pm
Looking after yourself

  • Stress – recognising the signs of negative stress, managing the symptoms of stress, and exploring positive self-care.
  • Develop a calmer, constructive, positive environment by looking at the real causes of difficult situations and working together to improve those.
  • Although there will always be difficult conversations to be had, developing confidence, evidence, empathy, and resilience to lead to more positive, effective, and supportive outcomes for all.

2.15pm – 3.00pm

Discussion: afternoon tea

3.00 – 3.45pm

How to resolve difficult conversations effectively

  • Strategies and successful methods for preparing, delivering, and dealing with difficult conversations.
  • Effective strategies to deal with personal issues in a professional and supportive way.
  • Case studies to highlight appropriate conversation strategies: style/ tone/ ego / state / language.
  • Know how to deal with ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ issues: behaviour attitude manner manipulation.
  • Plan constructively and establish clear objectives.
  • Tackling complacency and using evidence to support difficult conversations with over-confident colleagues.

3.00 – 3.45pm

Plenary & Finish

Steve Burnage

Having spent over 25 years teaching and leading a variety of schools across the UK, Steve is sought after as an expert practitioner, consultant, and trainer. He specialises in developing effective school leadership at all levels; and supporting outstanding and impactful classroom practice, pedagogy, learning and teaching. Alongside Steve’s training and education reform projects, he receives frequent invitations to speak at international education conferences, features in a wide range of training videos and online seminars, hosts regular interactive webinar sessions on key aspects of effective classroom practice and school leadership; and coaches and mentors headteachers worldwide.