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Leadership is like sailing

Leadership is like sailing


This is a newer page on the ThinQ Education website and is about a subject that I am passionate about – leadership.


Leadership, I have decided, is a little like sailing: it’s often thrilling and risky at the same time, it involves precision steering and decisive action – and it can be lonely and terrifying on occasions. It reminds me of a quote I read at the Maritime Museum in Falmouth:

‘Sailing is hours of pure pleasure interrupted by moments of sheer terror.’

But there are a lot of us out there who have launched into the deep ocean of leadership because we have a PURPOSE. That’s what drives us. However, we can also feel left adrift and at the mercy of the waves, so to speak, if we don’t have people around us to be our support, our mentor, our coach – to listen, to encourage, to advise – and to just be there when no one else is.


ThinQ Education was set up to support learners and leaders at every level in a school setting. Leadership is too important to let it just happen – or to think that leaders don’t need support. If anything, leaders need more support than anyone because, by its very nature, the job of leadership is lonely and yet impossible to do on your own. To this end, ThinQ Education provides support in a number of forms:

  • In-school bespoke leadership coaching for senior leaders, middle leaders and aspiring leaders
  • Leadership Roundtable events to facilitate collaborative leadership development (more information below)
  • This website also features occasional blog posts aimed at supporting leaders in their own leadership development.


In the context of a school leadership team, leaders are challenged to reflect on and explore their own leadership stories – their strengths, struggles and vulnerabilities – and to think of practical steps to develop their own and each others’ leadership capacity.

Each person is given an opportunity to share something important in their leadership journey. The rest of the group then talk around this so that everyone benefits from their mutual learning. This clearly has benefits for the whole school as well as individuals.

The facilitator draws the stories out of those present, shares their own stories where relevant and helps to identify key learning and actions. It is not too dissimilar from a mutual coaching exercise.


In the context of a small group of leaders from different schools (limited to just heads, just deputies and assistant heads – or just middle leaders), the format is similar to that above but the facilitator really works at promoting the mutual sharing of stories and learning so that individuals go away with ideas and inspiration – and reassurance!

A Leadership Roundtable event typically starts with a think piece from the facilitator – and concludes with a plenary to evaluate outcomes and share written intentions.

We are currently working on developing a new website devoted to leadership, a newsletter and a Facebook page.


To comment or enquire, please get in touch:

01384 883 449

07772 631 764



‘Phil Thomas is an innovative thinker who believes that creating opportunities for teamwork is a crucial way to developing leaders and key areas of learning. He is self-motivated, full of ideas, and would be an essential part of any group wishing to develop their creativity and thinking skills. He is passionate about developing pupils’ life-long skills and personalised learning in order to create pupils who can overcome barriers to learning and become lifelong learners.’
Elaine Ashraf, formerly Chair of Governors, City Road Primary School, Birmingham

‘Phil Thomas has brought a new and exciting dimension to our Leadership Group, with a sharp focus on the key drivers for teaching and learning. He is passionate about personalised learning and developing children as life-long learners so that they, in turn, are passionate about their own learning. Phil has excellent intra-personal skills, and is highly skilled at creating and empowering working teams who move key agendas forward collaboratively.’
Saeeda Bano, Headteacher, Nansen Primary School, Birmingham

‘Having worked with Phil over several years on a variety of projects, including Philosophy for Children, building resilience and leadership development, it is clear to see the impact of his work across many areas of school life.
Phil had enabled our school leaders, at all levels, to reflect on and develop their practice by using an effective and personalised, layered approach to identifying key improvement issues.’
Vicki Kavanagh, Headteacher, Crocketts Community Primary School