This course will provide effective strategies to:

  • Evidence effective leadership and the support of positive behaviours for staff and student wellbeing, as described in OfSTED guidance for inspection
  • Know how to deal with ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ issues through opening lines, questioning tips, interaction strategies; and de-escalation techniques
  • 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

Delegates will take away a wealth of practical strategies, informed by psychological understanding, to deal with difficult situations effectively, and with confidence, confidentiality, care and compassion.


  • 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 occurring
  • 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 DATE In-school only
  • Senior and Middle Leaders
  • Mentors and CPD coordinators
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
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance
  • Two course restaurant lunch
  • Refreshments throughout the day
  • Guaranteed high quality venues



10.00 – 11.15am: Why we need difficult conversations – tackling complacency, deflection and underachievement

  • Understand Ofsted expectations for 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

11.15 – 11.30am: Discussion: coffee break


11.30 – 12.30pm: How to lead 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
  • Pinpointing the most appropriate conversation: 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

12.30 – 1.15pm: Lunch and informal discussion


1.15 – 2.15pm: 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

2.15 – 2.30pm: Discussion: afternoon tea


2.30 – 3.30pm: 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
  • Develop a calmer, constructive, positive environment by looking at the real causes of difficult situations and working together to improve those.
  • Developing communication and response skills that help us turn difficult conversations into positive outcomes
  • Examples of useful opening lines that calm, deflect and start to resolve difficult situations
  • How to say ‘no’ and mean it in an assertive way without resorting to negative aggression
  • 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

3.30 – 3.45pm: Plenary and end

Steve Burnage

Steve’s career spans over 30 years teaching and senior leadership experience in inner city, urban and rural schools. Now a well-respected trainer, consultant and author who is frequently rated ‘outstanding’ by his clients. Steve devotes much of his professional time to coaching and developing senior and middle leaders in schools throughout the UK and internationally. His experience of some of the challenges of school leadership enable him to offer first hand, practical experience in how to handle difficult conversations and support the wellbeing and mental health of staff and students alike. Steve makes regular contributions to education magazines and newspapers and his ‘BiteSized Training’ is now a regular CPD feature in SecEd magazine. Steve brings a wealth of expertise and relevant professional experience of resolving difficult and challenging conversations to this course.

View all courses led by Steve Burnage >