With so many of us gripped by World Cup fever, England’s exit from the tournament has once again been put under the microscope. Questions were asked whether England would qualify for the tournament, in Brazil, in the first place. Once they qualified, undefeated I might add, and to the drawing of the groups, many were saying that England had their weakest team ever and that there was no talent in English football. The doom and gloom was such that a number of people stated that England would be lucky to get through their group and into the round of 16. However, only a few weeks ago new hope was raised that England had a team of youngsters that could cause an upset. Opinions now significantly varied on how well the team would do. After a very entertaining game against Italy, England lost 2-1, there was still optimism that their next opponent Uruguay could be beaten and England progress at their expense.

As we know, this never materialised and England are now out of the tournament. What I have seen since is a string of players saying that they are sorry for what happened. Each player, one by one, apologising to the supporters, moreover, the media, for their failings. Truth be said, there is absolutely nothing to apologise for. The England team prepared well, began to bring through a new generation of players and came up short in two games of football. The team played with a refreshing style of play not seen by an England team for over a decade and yet they are saying sorry. If they did not set themselves a goal to qualify for the next stage of the tournament, to win their games, what is the point of playing?

A dejected Wayne RooneySo what has this got to do with educational leadership? As leaders in school’s we often have to say sorry. Leaders have to be the face of the school, having the courage to apologise for not only their mistakes but, oftentimes, for the mistakes of others. We can sometimes find ourselves apologising to our staff about new requirements handed down by bureaucratic decision-makers. There are times, however, where saying sorry is not necessary.

As leaders we can fall short in several things that we do but we should not always have to say sorry. Setting a commendable and high goals are essential to what we do and it is inevitable that we will not hit the target on every occasion. You know when you have given your all for something and it has not worked out one hundred percent but saying sorry is not always the answer. In fact, it can lead to you ending up saying sorry for everything and, occasionally, we are seeking someone else who will tell us that it is not our fault. We must not feel guilty for everything bad that happens in our schools, we just need to keep working to make it better; that takes time and continued effort.

My advice to England’s manager and players is to stop saying sorry. Roll-up your sleeves, take on board what has been learned, set new goals and try your hardest to achieve them. You cannot control what others expect from you.