What Leaders Are Saying

I worked closely with Joanna for over 6 years and found her a fantastic person to be around. As an outstanding head she transformed Millennium Primary School through building, developing, working alongside and supporting a team of outstanding leaders and staff. She has extensive experience and expertise in all areas of strategic whole school development and understands the complex demands placed on both leaders and staff. I would often turn to Joanna in confidence if I had issues or needed to talk through difficult situations. She was particularly skilled at asking the right question at the right time which would often make you look at the problem in a different way. She would often ask the question that you were afraid to ask yourself. Over my time with Joanna I witnessed first hand the excellent support and guidance that she gave to staff from across the school. Joanna is particularly good at building relationships with people as she has a warm and friendly disposition who is in her element when working with others, I highly recommend working with Joanna.
Nick Osborne, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – Maritime MAT, London. 

Joanna is a fantastic leadership coach; she genuinely understands the challenges of school leadership in the current climate. She is kind, supportive and non-judgmental. I feel that my self-confidence as a Head (in my first year of headship) has grown throughout the academic year because of my sessions with Joanna. We have talked through challenging situations to find resolution; she has supported me with effective tools and resources for managing workload and team building; and she has focused on my own wellbeing as a priority. I highly recommend Joanna to other school leaders.
Roz Wood-Ives,
Deputy Director School Improvement, Secondary
Reach MAT, Yorkshire

My sessions with Joanna have been invaluable. They’ve really made me look at myself and the way I lead the Trust. The fact that Joanna has been a headteacher in a former life has made a big difference in her ability to coach me in my role. Unless you’ve done that role you don’t understand the complexities and challenges of school leadership and school improvement and Joanna definitely does. Joanna has also held me to account and really focused me on thinking about the bigger picture. She has provided me with the tools that I need to make improvements in my practice and as a result of this, it has had a huge impact on my ability to lead the Trust. She’s really made me think outside the box and given me confidence. I wholly support anyone having coaching with Joanna.
Alexa Rendell, Chief Operations Officer, PolyMAT, London

It was an absolute pleasure and privilege to work with Joanna. I was drawn to working with her as she has first-hand experience of the challenges headteachers and leaders face working in schools as well as her excellent skills as a coach. I have learnt methods from Joanna that I have continued to use and apply both to my own practice and when offering mentoring to fellow senior leaders. Joanna is incredibly likeable, she makes you feel at ease and secure. I would highly recommend Joanna to any leader and will certainly look to continue working with her for my own development in the future.
Rachael Clare, Head of School, Boxgrove Primary School, Greenwich.

Working with Joanna this year has been really beneficial and I would definitely recommend Joanna’s coaching to others. Joanna has a wide range of strategies and resources and so is able to offer a variety of approaches to help you achieve the three leadership goals you set together. I found the goal setting and 360 review really personalised which made the foundation of the work we did together all the more meaningful.  Joanna was able to give specific and targeted strategies which have helped me to develop as a leader. Joanna helped me develop more efficient time management strategies allowing more of my workload to be completed in the school day, while also working on effective delegation strategies. Joanna supported me in realising my own strengths, as both a leader and an individual, and helped me practise ways to combat negative self-talk. Having someone to talk to outside of my own workplace was really beneficial as it meant there was someone impartial and supportive to discuss things with, giving a new perspective on situations or new ideas when planning strategies. The coaching process has helped me to develop confidence in myself and I now feel I have a range of strategies to call upon. Joanna is passionate, knowledgeable and has an infectious enthusiasm that provides excellent motivation, she is a fantastic coach.
Sophie Town, School Improvement Leader, Beyond MAT, Kent

Joanna is one of those people you meet in life who you are naturally drawn to. Her warm, effervescent demeanour means she builds trust and belief from the moment you meet her. Using her coaching and mentoring skills she is able to professionally and effectively navigate you through issues whether these be work related or personal. Her dedication to her passion is what makes Head First successful and why she will help you through the dilemmas you face- contact her now, you won’t regret it!
Carole Hornsby, Education Director – Maritime MAT, London

I worked with Joanna over a two-year period as a developing Head of Faculty in a busy secondary school. We quickly built a supportive and challenging working partnership that meant all coaching sessions were both productive and solution focused. The 360 diagnostic tool enabled us to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement. Joanna was a wonderful critical friend who both gave me time and space to discuss challenges as I perceived them and asked pertinent questions so that I could see the situation differently and often arrive at a more productive solution. Joanna’s methodology is based around academic research which gives her approach even more creditability. Thank you, Joanna, for all the help and support. It has made a real difference to me as a leader in my school.
Rachel Smith, Head of Humanities, Parkside School, Cullingworth, West Yorkshire

I’ve always been a little skeptical of coaching from a personal point of view, as I’ve always felt that I have people to turn to ask for help should I need any help or advice. However, speaking to someone who just helps you reflect on your own personal qualities and leadership has been really beneficial and has definitely had an immediate impact. The 360 reminded me of my areas to develop as well as giving me confidence in the areas that I’ve always excelled in. Actually having a coach who helps you dig a bit deeper into the areas to develop has helped me to re-evaluate how I launch new initiatives. One comment in my feedback mentioned that I was sometimes ‘too efficient’ and therefore I haven’t always taken people with me / explained things well enough etc. As a result of the coaching I launched the ‘Transformation Team’ to give staff more of a voice and an influence on some of the decisions I need to make. I have also started to rethink how the ELT meetings run and how giving them more autonomy will actually unite the team more. I have definitely started to give myself a little but more time to reflect before speaking with colleagues! It was also really useful to be able to talk through potential difficult conversations before they happened so that I felt more prepared. After starting off a little skeptical, it’s fair to say that I would now recommend coaching (certainly by Joanna) as I do feel she has helped me. She was always very positive and as well as providing me with strategies, made me feel like I was doing a good job!
Rachael Cole, Headteacher, Bishop Young Secondary Academy, Leeds

Joanna is the ideal coach for me because she has not only got a proven track-record of school improvement as a really successful headteacher herself, but also she has lots of experience working with leaders at different levels. Joanna’s coaching style is very relaxed and friendly. She’s very warm but also holds me to account and challenges me. I know when I talk to her, what I tell her will remain in confidence and it’s really good to get that moral support from someone who has experienced some of the challenges themselves and knows what the pressures of the role can be. Having time to develop the strategies and tools to work towards my goals is really important, as well as having the opportunity to receive some professional feedback, which has really helped me to grow as a leader. I really look forward to my sessions with Joanna. It’s nice to find time in my schedule to spend some time on me. It has helped me to develop as a person and as a leader.
Zoe Mayston, Headteacher, Balfour Junior School, Kent

‘I have worked with Joanna in a professional capacity for 4 years. What I love about Joanna is her ability to put you at ease, see things from more than one perspective and guide you through situations. Contact her to realise your goals and help you achieve them.’
Debra Joyce, Headteacher, Timbercroft Primary School, London.

I have had the pleasure of working with Joanna throughout the last academic year, which has also been my first in Headship. The challenges of being new to Headship, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic at times have almost felt unbearable; however, Joanna’s support has been invaluable in helping me navigate to the end of the academic year.  Joanna’s personality and wealth of leadership experience immediately put me at ease and enabled me to talk openly and honestly about the challenges I was experiencing. I was able to share challenges that were causing me the greatest difficulty and discuss solutions. Joanna’s supportive feedback has helped me to reflect on successes and often put things in perspective. I have also adopted lots of strategies that Joanna has suggested into my daily routine to help support my positive mental health. Working with Joanna has certainly helped to improve my confidence as a new Headteacher and I would highly recommend working with Joanna to other school leaders.
Graham Hilton, Headteacher, Lightcliffe C of E Primary School, Leeds

I have really enjoyed working with Joanna this year. To have time and space to really focus on 3 key areas of my leadership was a rare treat in the busy world of teaching. Although the 360 is a daunting process, the results and feedback gave me a good foundation to build on and work on improving those areas (which I may not have been aware of). Joanna’s knowledge is incredible and there is always a system or framework that she knows that can help. This has helped me with my time management. As DSL I am constantly reacting to incidents and rarely have time to look to the future and be proactive instead. I have been given tools to try and this has reduced my stress load and also made me more efficient in times where I am not picking up safeguarding issues. Confidence has always been a big issue for me, so working through those inner voices which often put you down and learning to ignore them has been a game changer!
Rebekah Chew, Assistant Headteacher, Thomas Aveling Secondary School, Kent.

Joanna coached me during a challenging period of time as a Headteacher. She helped me prioritise and deal with some very difficult situations at work and also provided much-needed well-being support. As a consultant her expertise and knowledge from being a Headteacher leading a school to Outstanding, was extremely helpful. Her patience, skill and ability as a coach was invaluable. She made a huge difference and I was very grateful for her support and expert advice. I’d highly recommend her!’
Headteacher,  London

The coaching sessions offer very helpful advice on dealing with challenges faced in my current role. This has helped me with techniques in motivating others and addressing how to manage the time taken to deal with the reactive parts of my current role. The coaching sessions have really helped with confidence and encouragement. Joanna has provided some helpful feedback on my achievements to date which has been really useful in helping to build my own confidence in my abilities and understand and acknowledge my areas of strength (and use these to my advantage). She has been very helpful in providing practical advice for my areas of development. The coaching has helped me with focusing my career direction and aspirations more. Joanna has helped me explore different choices and areas for further experience. She listened to my needs and offered practical advice on how I can try to proactively search for the experience I need to develop areas where I have less experience. This has helped me become more decisive and driven with clear milestones.
Middle Leader, Robert Napier Secondary School, Kent

I can’t tell you how amazing this process has been for me. I’ve come so far since I first started working with Joanna. I really have found our coaching sessions so helpful. I have to thank you for helping me find my way back to a balanced life and overcoming huge hurdles! Highly recommended!’
Hayley Da Luca,  Director/Business Owner,  Bradford

I received some interview coaching from Joanna which was fantastic. We role-played interview scenarios and she provided insightful feedback about how I could improve. She helped me to develop strong answers to key questions in order to sell myself and enhance my language, voice and body language to be more persuasive and engaging. The whole process massively increased my confidence and I landed my dream job as a result! Thank you Joanna for all your help!’
G Gregson,  Head of Events Fundraising,  London

I am a foreigner living in the UK and had to cope with family illness and bereavement whilst being apart from them. Joanna’s coaching was the start of my journey into a position of courage as she provided me with the foundation for personal and emotional growth. So thanks to Joanna I have been able to manage my life again.’
Fernanda Merlino-Pennington,  Artist,  Chichester

Joanna coached me through my son’s long, arduous educational tribunal without a lawyer. I highly recommend anyone considering her coaching, particularly in the field of education where she was the font of all knowledge. Joanna leaves no stone unturned – she’s as sharp as a razor, professional and passionate. She has the ability to skill-fully assist you in making the right choices in your life. She kept me motivated, afloat and never took her eye off the ball. Thank you Joanna – your incredible inquiring mind and warmth helped me challenge and overcome some huge fears and navigated me to challenge some difficult individuals to succeed in my quest for my son.’
Joanne Castelleanos,  Teaching Assistant,  Conwy