Upbeat headteachers have a ripple effect and lead to a happy school… | Portsmouth High School

Upbeat headteachers have a ripple effect and lead to a happy school…

Last week at the Girls’ School Association annual conference I heard Andy Cope – the self-styled soon-to-be Dr of happiness – speak about how an upbeat headteacher can have a ripple effect and lead to a happy school.

The author of ‘The Art of Being Brilliant’, Mr Cope said there were several techniques that head teachers could follow to help encourage a positive environment in schools.

He encouraged headteachers to adopt the 10/5 principle which requires them to smile at anyone within 10 feet and say hello to anyone within 5 feet and to spend four minutes being their best selves and then apparently everyone they come into contact with will leave them on average 16% happier just because they met them.

His final message to headteachers: “Your job is not to inspire other people, your job is to be inspired. If you can be inspired and become a people person, then your school magically will be inspired too.”


The staff and majority of the girls at PHS do naturally do the 10/5 rule out of politeness and it is encouraging to think that this also helps make our school a happy one. Whilst Andy Cope’s talk was entertaining he didn’t really focus on how we help our girls to “think happy”. He did, however, say it is a state of mind and that I agree with wholeheartedly. It can be difficult to feel happy when going through those grumpy adolescent years but if the people around are upbeat and positive it can have a good effect on well being.

You may have seen my letter to the Daily Telegraph last week on our thwarted attempts to start a Combined Cadet Force at school. It is still the case that there is a prejudice against independent schools developing cadet units and a favouritism towards the maintained sector schools. This means the majority of established units are in schools that either were once all boys’ schools or girls’ schools that have an association with a boys’ school. This is discriminatory and disadvantages schools like PHS but it is a battle I shall continue to fight.