Exceed SCITT and Teaching Schools: An update (May 2017)

The spring term 2017 proved to be another successful and busy month for the SCITT and Teaching Schools:

School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)

  • Our new Head of Initial Teacher Education (ITE), Kathryn Gerrard, took up her new role having left Leeds Trinity University in February 2017. Kathryn will lead all aspects of our ITT provision, including the recruitment of high quality university graduates, quality assurance of the provision, and ensuring we’re compliant with NCTL and DfE course requirements.
  • Our Head of ITE is working with the Lead Mentors to design the delivery programmes for each training pathway and to secure schools to deliver each aspect of both the subject and professional studies elements. This builds on schools’ proven track records to ensure the highest-quality, 100% school-led provision.
  • Recruitment has picked up again after a quieter first half to the term (as with all providers). Many providers are reporting a reduction in applications this year and a reduction in the quality of candidates. We’re pleased with our recruitment and the quality of applicants. We’ve not, and won’t, reduce our expectations of applicants as this is not in the interest of our cohort of trainees or schools.
  • Events for next years’ trainees to meet our current and previous trainees plus their induction event have been scheduled.
  • Next years’ trainees are in contact with their ‘home’ school as part of their preparation for starting their training in September.
  • A number of potential applicants are currently undertaking work experience in our partner schools with a view to applying later this year or next. We’re honest with applicants; if they are not ready to secure a training place now we don’t offer them one. Instead, we support them to develop as rapidly as possible through our strong partnership of schools in Bradford and Keighley.

Leadership development

  • Having secured LA funding for our Aspiring Executive Headteacher Programme, we concluded the programme with Cohort 2. Twenty-four school leaders attended the highly-successful programme. Plans for a Cohort 3 are currently being discussed. A summary of the learning from the programme is available here.
  • The need for an Aspiring Head of School/Headteacher Programme emerged from the Aspiring Executive Headteacher Programme. We secured DfE funding for the ‘Stepping Up’ programme to facilitate this. Cohort 1 of 23 leaders completed the programme in April 2017. At this time, only 5 of 66 places remain available (click here for details) across the hugely popular cohorts 2 (June/July 2017) and 3 (September/November 2017). In this programme, we support school leaders to consider the range of leadership models (click here for more information), the conditions needed for a successful headship, and they undertake a study visit to South London.
  • The Emerging Middle Leaders Programme was successfully concluded by the facilitators, Bronte Academy Trust. Some of the leaders of this programme have gone on to use this as evidence to help them secure Specialist Leader of Education (SLE) designation.
  • Our National Professional Qualification (NPQ) for Middle Leaders have two sessions remaining, whilst our NPQ for Senior Leaders have submitted their assessments. Some have already secured their award.
  • This term we’ve worked with Carnegie Leaders to be named as a Lead School for the revised versions of NPQML, NPQSL, NPQH and the executive leaders programme. We await the outcome of our lengthy application. Our current facilitators are beginning to design the revisited programmes in anticipation of the outcome.
  • Our April 2017-March 2018 Governor Training and Development Programme has been launched and the first events delivered. This is an innovative programme which gives all subscribing schools access to one in-house training session plus a programme of events held at Canterbury Nursery School.

School improvement

  • This term we secured £60,000 to fund school-to-school support for identified eligible schools. Each supported school has at least one supporting school working with them on their priority areas. Exceed SCITT sand Teaching Schools has appointed an independent (to the support) Quality Assurance Lead: a local headteacher and Local Leader of Education (LLE) to support the planning, monitoring and evaluation of the support. More details on how we quality assure support is available here.
  • This term, we have designated four Local Leaders of Education (LLE). This is a recently acquired function of Teaching Schools. We’ve also designated a further ten Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE) adding to our and multi-academy trusts’ capacity to support other schools. This designation recognises colleagues expertise and understanding of outstanding leadership and provides them with further provenance when engaging in school-to-school support.
  • We’ve received a large number of commissions for Pupil Premium Reviews this term. These are led by our trained LLE and Pupil Premium Reviewer, Christabel Shepherd. We have further colleagues due to be trained in the summer term. Information on our reviews is available here.
  • Exceed Academies Trust, subject to due diligence, will become the new sponsors of Appleton Academy in September 2017. We’re excited about this through-school joining our organisation.
  • Farmham, Princeville, Haworth, Crossley Hall and Horton Park and Horton Grange primary schools’ collected awards at The T&A School Improvement Awards and Community Hearts Awards. Copthorne Primary School celebrated it’s 10th year as a school judged as “Outstanding”.
  • Horton Park Primary School has been short-listed for the TES Primary School of the Year 2017. Fingers crossed for when the results are announced in June!

Professional learning (CPD)

  • The second cohort of our Teaching Reading Programme completed with participation in March. Our evaluations of this show significant impact, with schools demonstrating a significant impact on pupil outcomes through teacher assessments. Some schools have demonstrated a year on year improvement of over 50pp in the proportion of pupils achieving age related expectations. 39 schools participated in this programme.
  • We continue to be the sole licence holder for Bar Modelling for Bradford’s primary schools, working in partnership with the White Rose Maths Hub. We continue to deliver twilight training sessions to schools. More information is available here.
  • Exceed SCITT and Teaching Schools presented at the Teaching Schools Summit Conference in April. A summary of the sessions key messages are available here (managing competition) and here (school improvement).

Research and development

  • Last year Exceed SCITT and Teaching Schools appointed a Research and Development Lead, Andrew Johnston. He has focused on the use of lesson study and joint practice development in Science teaching. This has demonstrated significant impact. We have used this, along with the wide range of research Copthorne Primary SChool has engaged with, to apply to become a Research School, supported and funded by the DfE, Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Institute for Effective Education. We await the outcome of our application, having been shorted listed and interviewed recently. We hope to draw upon some of Appleton Academy’s good practice in research as part of our next steps.

Innovative ideas to find your niche as a new Teaching School: Managing competition

On Thursday 27th April 2017, Exceed SCITT and Teaching Schools delivered a workshop at the Optimus Education’s Teaching Schools Summit in London. This post summarises some of the key considerations we discussed. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded here. This is the second blog post of a series that relate directly to this event. We’re not sure that it’s purely aimed at new Teaching Schools as the workshop title suggests! It’s more of a representation of the current system (as we interpret it at this moment in time, it may have evolved further soon after writing this post!) and some of our reflections on how the school-led system has developed in the last year/months.

Managing competition

The local partnership working of Bradford’s Teaching Schools has been a significant factor in helping to secure the school-led system of school improvement within the district. Established by the schools soon after an intensive period of engagement with the Local Authority exploring and developing the vision for the future of school improvement in 2015, the Teaching Schools identified their strengths and interests to develop going forward. This wasn’t a competitive process. Some focused on their multi-academy trust or diocese schools; others a more city-wide offer support to all schools. For us, we focused on leadership development, professional learning and English as an Additional Language (EAL) and New to English (NtE) provision (although not exclusively, we still had to work towards fulfilling our duty relating to the Teaching Schools’ “Big 6” priorities) for all schools. Others focused more intensively on initial teacher training (ITT), Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT) and Early Years provision, for example. The need for regular networking, peer support and coordination saw the formation of the Bradford Teaching Schools’ Forum with membership growing as new Teaching Schools were designated. Our DfE/NCTL/Teaching School Council (TSC) advisor joined many of the meetings, providing regular updates on the evolving national policy. This has been an effective way of facilitating collaboration rather than competition.

Its become our view that every Teaching School actually needs to be involved in delivering on all aspects of what was seen as the “Big 6” priorities, now reduced to 3: school-to-school support (including system leader designation), initial teacher education (including NQT and Recently Qualified Teacher (RQT) support) and professional development (including leadership development). Teaching Schools shouldn’t replace local authorities: they serve the needs of their partner schools and multi-academy trust(s). We don’t individually have the capacity to support 200 Bradford-based schools! We need a model that is different to those which have gone before. Therefore, Teaching Schools, ultimately, need to be involved in all aspects of the partners’ needs or commission support from other Teaching Schools. Without clearly defined partnerships, or Alliances, or as these partnership grow and alignment of individual schools shifts to achieve this, Teaching Schools can feel like they are competing with each other: those areas they ‘led’ are now becoming aspects the other Teaching Schools’ offer to their partners schools and MATs.

At times we’ve felt the pressure to work collaboratively with one or more Teaching Schools rather than independently. Whilst there are many positives when collaborating and where this is the most effective model it should be embraced, each Teaching School also needs to grow its role and remit and working alone on an project or initiative becomes important. Each Teaching School needs its own identity.

In developing initial teacher training, especially our own School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) provision, we have seen the element of competition develop between providers. All the providers need to be financially viable (and this comes through recruiting trainees) and secure great trainees for their partner schools. This means trainees need to be secured, usually from the same pool of applicants as all the other local providers! We’ve tried to address this ourselves by being confident in what we offer: our innovative, well-consider provision; our determination not to lower our expectations of the quality of candidates we offer places to; and accepting that some candidates may be better suited to other providers programmes. We’ll maintain our reputation for quality and we’re confident this will bring success, and viability!

We’re proud to work in partnerships with Teaching Schools and SCITTs around the country. We support them, they support us. We utilise their context and experiences to enhance our own provision, and vice versa. Our partnership with Education Teaching Alliance Lewisham (ETAL) Teaching School is a fine example of this. They developed an innovative study visit programme for school leaders to visit “outstanding schools in challenging circumstances”. Together, we’ve refined this programme to meet our needs to facilitate leaders to undertake study visits. In 2016 and 2017, we’ll have taken 100 school leaders to visit Lewisham schools with great success and impact (see our posts on executive leadership and models of school leadership for details). This partnership continues to grow with new collaborations in development.

Can there be collaboration and no competition within the system? It would be great to think this was achievable but the landscape is complex.

Coming next: Innovative approaches to continuous professional development (CPD).

Managing comp

Innovative ideas to find your niche as a new Teaching School: School improvement

On Thursday 27th April 2017, Exceed SCITT and Teaching Schools delivered a workshop at the Optimus Education‘s Teaching Schools Summit in London. This post summarises some of the key considerations we discussed. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded here. This is the first blog post of a series that relate directly to this event. We’re not sure that it’s purely aimed at new Teaching Schools as the workshop title suggests! It’s more of a representation of the current system (as we interpret it at this moment in time, it may have evolved further soon after writing this post!) and some of our reflections on how the school-led system has developed in the last year/months.

Getting your school improvement strategy off the ground

Teaching Schools need to consider which schools and/or multi-academy trusts (MATs) it will be supporting. The role of Teaching Schools isn’t to replace a local authority as their school improvement role shifts to focus more on the monitoring of schools’ performance as ‘champion of all children‘ within a politically defined geographical area. Teaching Schools could solely support schools within, for example, their multi-academy trust; support schools that enter a formal arrangement with the Teaching School (we have a memorandum of understanding with our partners); informally support all schools within a city/region/area (we’re not constrained by political boundaries); or a blend of these. For us, we strive to provide high-quality support in everything we do. If we can’t do it well, we won’t do it. Therefore, we aim to support the schools who enter a formal partnership with us first and foremost (they help determine the areas we focus on) although we’d never close the door on other schools, within or beyond Bradford, accessing any aspect of our support if the school leaders felt we’d meet their needs. This can’t be every school within, for example, a local authority area. As schools ourselves, we don’t have the capacity, infrastructure, funding or desire to operate at the scale that a local authority would have done in the past. Our support needs to be targeted and bespoke, not universal and generic.

When we agree school-to-school support arrangements between two or more schools, we formalise these arrangements. There’s a written agreement that sets out each stakeholder’s responsibilities (those of the supported school(s), supporting school(s) and Teaching School), intended impact and the anticipated measurable evidence of impact. There’s a schedule for the support with a timeline for interim and final impact reports so that the Teaching School can monitor progress and report on impact and the use of funding as necessary, e.g. to the NCTL via the annual Collaborative Fund return. We can’t understate the importance of the agreement and the associated development plan that sits alongside it. Where schools bypass the formal process (and a Teaching School), the quality of support is often undermined. We’ve seen examples where leaders can’t demonstrate the impact they’ve had, the supporting school becomes vulnerable to being named unfavourably in the supported school’s inspection report, support focuses on the wrong area, etc. Just because a leader is designated as an Specialist Leader of Education (SLE), or as another type of system leader, doesn’t mean they’ll have impact. They need the support provided by the added capacity brought by the Teaching School to support (helping them to focus purely on the provision of support) and protect them (by ensuring their deployment is fit for purpose).

We now only accredit new system leaders where we have a commitment from the school or MATs leaders to adhere to the Teaching School’s systems and processes and where they’ll add capacity by contributing to the school-led system. SLE designation isn’t a right for all great school leaders: its for those great leaders who will work beyond their own school based on the moral purpose to support their peers.

Teaching Schools can now designate Local Leaders of Education (LLE) –  click here for details. We see this as a positive step. We need LLEs, headteachers with the provenance to support beyond their own school, to, for example, quality assure school-to-school support arrangements. They are the ones who can independently ensure arrangements between two or more schools are agreed with the associated headteachers and are fit for purpose before support is initiated; help monitor progress towards the agreed outcomes and evidence; and assist the supported school to evaluate the impact of the support and their own actions. We’ve found this to be a positive process for all parties, everyone takes something away from this process for the benefit of their own professional development or their own school’s practice. More information about our approach to this is available here.

Where a Teaching School supports more than more than one multi-academy trust (for example, its named as its school improvement capacity for sponsorship arrangements) there needs to be care to ensure the capacity isn’t seen to be spread too thinly. Again, this arrangement should be made where there is mutual benefit for each organisation. If the capacity is spread too thinly, then the ability of the MAT to support and sponsor other schools and MATs maybe undermined. We’ve had some great successes by entering into arrangements to be the school improvement capacity for another MAT, as they’ve led leadership programmes on our behalf. But, there have been others who wanted the arrangement but without truly contributing to the Teaching School’s operation: we’ve declined arrangements where this has been the case.

The role of Teaching Schools continues to evolve, the recently announced Strategic School Improvement Fund is an example of this. Their effective ways of working are becoming more complex, but they are a vital part of the school-led system.

Coming next: Managing competition.


Reflections on models of school leadership

We started the delivery of our successful Aspiring Executive Headteacher Programme in autumn 2016 (11 participants), with a second cohort in spring 2017 (14 participants). The need for an Aspiring Head of School/Headteacher Programme quickly emerged from the participants discussions, reflections, and the identified benefit of ensuring a common understanding of emerging leadership models throughout school senior leadership teams.

But, the need was broader than this. There are well documented challenges in recruiting sufficient headteachers. As an organisation charged with providing school-to-school support, we’re always seeking to do something new and different where they is a clear need; we didn’t just want to create a ‘new‘ programme that competes with other well-established programmes to develop leaders coaching and mentoring skills, for example. We wanted our participants, those considering headship in the next 12-18 months, to extend their thinking to their own career development and the conditions they’ll need, as individuals, to ensure that they have the right conditions for a successful headship. This includes supporting them to undertake an appropriate ‘due diligence‘ process to match themselves to the right school and situation.

This post, however, isn’t about planning a leadership development programme. It focuses on the leadership models aspiring Heads of School / Headteachers could/should consider. We’ll focus on three models, although there are bound to be others that could/should have equal status. But, in our context, the three we’ll consider are important.

What’s the difference between a Head of School and Headteacher? Often, it seems, the Head of School role is viewed as being below that of a Headteacher. We explored this in the Reflections on Executive Leadership post; I won’t repeat the discussion here. This is unfair, I believe: for many of those aspiring to headship (or those who have the potential to be heads but deliberately avoid it due to the pressures and challenges of the role) it could represent an appropriate ‘alternative‘ leadership model. It perhaps provides a role with a greater focus on teaching and learning than would often be possible under the ‘traditional‘ leadership model of a ‘standalone‘ Headteacher. Perhaps overly simple, but, in the current world of education, a standalone Headteacher is likely to have to oversee all aspects of the school’s operational and strategic functions, such as academy conversion. A Head of School, with executive leader(s) support and challenge, may not have the same level of burden (perhaps the executive leader will address the academisation agenda, for example), allowing them to focus more on what happens in the classroom: the priority of any school and, for most school leaders, their true passion. Some of the difference between the Head of School and Headteacher role need to be more widely understood and considered.

During our Aspiring Head of School / Headteacher Programme, we asked the participants to consider three leadership model, in terms of which appeals the most to them and would provide them with what they want/need if they are going to succeed in headship. Like during the Aspiring Executive Headteacher Programme, the participants visited six schools in Bradford and Lewisham to consider the models.

Model A: The traditional school leadership model

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Here, the Headteacher is ultimately accountable for the school’s performance. Supported and challenged by their governors, staff and external bodies, but they are the main decision maker and  the person responsible for the school’s pupil outcomes, finances, staffing, etc. This is probably the model that most leaders (even staff, parents and children) are familiar with.

Model B: The Executive Headteacher and Head of School model

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In this example, the Head of School is responsible for the direction of travel for the school (strategic and operational) but has the support and challenge of a more senior colleague to consult with. Ultimately, the Executive Headteacher is accountable for the school but the Head of School is the public face of the school (meeting and greeting parents, etc) and provides the leadership for the staff and children. The Executive Headteacher may lead on more challenging HR and long-term strategic developments of the partnership of schools, for example. This adds capacity: supporting the Head of School to focus on developing outstanding teaching and learning. The Heads of School, in a partnership like that shown above, are also likely to support each other.

Model C: Head of School or Headteacher within a multi-academy trust (MAT)

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This model is more varied in the range of headship positions available and each may be linked to the performance of a school over time, for example. The CEO is the accounting officer: responsible for all aspects of the partnership of schools’ performance. An Executive Headteacher may over see, support and challenge the head of a sponsored school, adding capacity to the sponsored school’s Headteacher of Head of School. Other schools joining the trust but performing well may have a Headteacher that works directly with the CEO, for example. All the Heads of School and Headteachers have support (from each other as well as the executive leaders) from above.

The focus of the Aspiring Head of School/Headteacher Programme isn’t to promote one model over another; its to encourage the aspiring leaders to think about the model that would suit their development and, in most cases, the structure of the partnership and/or school in which they work now or in the future. We need tomorrow’s leaders to understand the changing educational landscape and its implications on such models for individuals and organisations, positive or negative as they may be.

Which model suits your career development? What would you need to know more about? What are the opportunities and challenges? Comment below.

Reflections on executive leadership

We’ve recently (February 2017) completed cohort 2 of our ‘Aspiring Executive Headteacher Programme‘, a highly successful, thought provoking professional learning event that has facilitated deep personal and professional reflection. To date, twenty-five headteachers, some of whom have already transitioned to executive leadership, have attended the five-day programme which has involved close partnership working between Exceed Academies Trust (@exceedacademies), Wellspring Academy Trust (@wellspringAT), Exceed SCITT and Teaching Schools Bradford (@exceedtsa), and Education Teaching Alliance Lewisham (@eta_lewisham). Consisting of sharing the professional journey of well established, highly successful Executive Headteachers, the programme has  provided high-potential school leaders with an insight into, in some cases, the progression of schools from an ‘inadequate‘ inspection outcome to ‘outstanding‘, whilst considering the pivotal roles of an Executive Headteacher and Head of School along the way. In total, the partipants have worked with three Executive Headteachers, seven Heads of School, and visited six schools in both Bradford and Lewisham.

The executive model provides Heads of School (the headteacher of the school below the executive headteacher) another professional to work closely with. The Executive Headteacher is a sounding board, someone to offer reassurance, someone to challenge perspectives, someone (on rare occasions) to step in to help avoid an error in judgment. Heads of School are Headteachers, they are responsible on a day-to-day basis for their school, often with a more in-depth focus on teaching and learning than might otherwise be possible, a huge benefit of this leadership model. The Executive Headteacher often brings a more holistic view of the education system, providing a longer term strategy for school improvement across a partnership of schools.

This partnership between the Executive Headteacher and Head of School brings a wealth of advantages, too, including the ease of sharing practice and experience between schools to the benefit of all (especially the children and young people). Academisation, personnel issues, long-term school improvement (such as the growth of a Teaching School or school centred initial teacher training (SCITT)), and a whole host of other considerations fall under the remit of the Executive Headteacher. This leadership model adds capacity. Under the traditional Headteacher role, having to lead these strategic and the day-to-day operational elements as the sole, accountable leader is a huge task. Many great senior leaders, perhaps, avoid the step up to headship to avoid the ultimate accountability in an education system that has changed so much in recent years (decades), along with a reduced focus on the classroom (the passion of most leaders). Perhaps more would become Headteacher if they had the additional capacity of an Executive Headteacher working alongside them and fulfil head of school role which may focusing more on teaching and learning.

Understanding of the Head of School role is not consistent in the education system. The Head of School role may be seen by some as as being at a level lower than that of an outright Headteacher. This needs to be reconsidered, as some schools and individuals may be missing out on a fantastic leadership model built on peer support and helps avoid isolation at the top. Headteachers can support each other, but its not the same as both parties, the Head of School and Executive Headteacher, having ownership of the school(s) they lead. Executive leadership may not be for everyone or for every school. But, its a model with many advantages that could be considered more widely. The aspiring Executive Headteachers have seen successful models in action. Each executive leader has their own model and approach, each highly successful in their own schools, partnerships, and contexts.

For some, the executive model can also support the Executive Headteacher’s transition to CEO of a multi-academy trust and the development of opportunities for the Heads of School to become Executive Headteachers within the same MAT in time. They can drawn upon their own experiences to support heads of school in sponsored schools in the same way they they benefited from the executive model. Small schools (often in rural areas) and some faith schools in particular face challenges in recruiting headteachers. Perhaps the executive model presents opportunities here, too, for those schools facing such challenges. It might not be the solution for everyone or every school, but perhaps it should be considered more widely.

So, what have the participants of the ‘Aspiring Executive Headteacher Programme‘ taken away from it? The list is long. Here are a few of the key points (in no particular order):

  • An understanding that being an Executive Headteacher doesn’t mean your headteacher of two or more schools. You can’t be. The Head of School is the public face of the school, for example, dealing with parents, taking assemblies, etc.
  • An Executive Headteacher can’t split their time evenly between their schools. They have to go to where they are needed. Of course, they have to maintain frequent contact with each Head of School and the school as a whole, but sometimes this is a phone call, email or text. They need to be accessible, but they can’t be everywhere all the time (and the Head of School probably doesn’t want them looking over their should every two minutes!)
  • Each school is different. They need to be supported and challenged in different ways. This is potentially exciting for an Executive Headteacher as each school they lead brings fresh challenges.
  • Heads of School have suggested that they take greater calculated risks for the benefit of the school, rather than being risk adverse in order to avoid the workload that might come from making an error. The support, and challenge, of the Executive Headteacher seems to give them a more positive view point when making decisions that they feel will, if successful, benefit the school significantly. The potential outcome is greater than the risk.
  • A confidence in their own school. Having visited five ‘outstanding‘ schools, the aspiring Executive Headteachers have grown in confidence about the quality of their own provision. They can seem similarities or opportunities to enhance their own provision. Perhaps in the future some of them will be ‘fighting‘ for an ‘outstanding‘ outcome to their next inspection.
  • An understanding of the increased capacity in the school’s leadership. If there was a disaster, for example, and the Head of School was out of action for a period of time, the executive headteacher can immediately step in to the operational role (short term) until the leadership model can be restored.
  • The participants have increased confidence in their own senior leaders (and staff as a whole). Many of the leaders have registered their ‘aspiring Heads of School‘ to work with Exceed SCITT and Teaching Schools and its partners or a similar programme aimed at building a consistency in understanding the executive leadership model throughout the senior leadership team. An Executive Headteacher needs their heads of school to understand each stakeholders’ role and remit, and the rationale of the model.
  • It’s flattering to be approached by, for example, a local authority to take on an executive leadership post for the first time. This makes it hard to say ‘no‘. The aspiring executive headteachers increasingly considered the terms and conditions they’d require to take on such a role. Some delegates had taken the step up to Executive Headteacher but found there was little or no support for them upon being appointed. Some felt that upon their agreement to undertake the role, the organisation making the approach felt that their job was done. The aspiring executive headteachers need support to address the issues they face, with difficult to address issues requiring support to overcome (such as addressing governance issues). Without the appropriate support structures in place, the performance of all the new executive headteachers schools are put at risk.
  • The geographical location of schools is an important consideration. The executive headteacher needs to be able to get to their schools quickly and easily. Some Executive Headteachers shared their challenges where a journey of an hour or more impacted on themselves and the effectiveness of the model.
  • This model isn’t just a positive career next step for the headteacher becoming an Executive Headteacher; it’s a step up for the Deputy Headteacher (and others) who become a Head of School. The aspiring Head of School also needs support and training (hence, in our case, the successful regional funding application for a ‘Stepping Up‘ programme funded by the DfE outlined above). Within weeks of offering this new programme, cohort 1 was sold out. In March 2017, twenty-four aspiring heads of school will begin the programme. Bookings for summer and autumn 2017 cohorts are being taken.
  • Accessing a support like the ‘Aspiring Executive Headteacher Programme‘ helps takes away the fear factor of taking on such responsibility through adding context to what the leadership model could look like. It deepens participants understanding of the role and widens their views and experiences. For some, they feel ready for the role, others need more time (and provenance), others know its may not be a role for them. Each is a successful outcome. All have greater confidence in themselves and their schools and understand the conditions they’d need in order to consider such a role.
  • Executive Headteachers need provenance (including pupil outcomes) and capacity below them in the ‘home‘ school.
  • The programme has demystified less common job titles.

This programme has be vital in supporting the headteachers to take the next step in their career, whether this is to become an Executive Headteacher or not (they are now well informed to make the decision). For some, becoming an executive headteacher will be a positive next step and will help improve schools. But, this will not be effective unless organisations provide the support the leader needs and be prepared to use their informal and formal powers of intervention, if required in extreme circumstances. All stakeholders need the learning of these aspiring headteachers to be well understood to help avoid unsustainable solutions to improving school leadership being implemented. Executive leadership has been proven to be a highly effective solution – where the right conditions were in place. Lewisham is an interesting example of this, where the majority of schools have an Executive Headteacher.

The aspiring Executive Headteachers explored the growth of executive leadership in a more considered/planned manner, too. This included direct approaches to governing bodies that faced recruitment challenges and/or where it was logical for an executive model to be developed, e.g. as the Executive Headteacher of a primary schools and its neighbouring feeder nursery school. At this point, the leaders are more in control of the model and it becomes sustainable, more financially viable, and of even greater impact.

What are the opportunities and challenges in developing executive leadership in your organisation? How could these be overcome? What are the alternative model you may consider?