The Journal for Executive and Governance Leaders

My ambitions for my new role with Ambition School Leadership and the Institute for Teaching

I wanted to join Ambition School Leadership and the Institute for Teaching (IfT) for the opportunity to work alongside people I trust and respect. Also because the organisation is a highly effective charity that places improving the life chances of disadvantaged young people at its core.

Ambition and the IfT have a compelling vision for the future and we share the belief that successful and sustained improvement is about teaching and leadership.

As a leader, my motivation has always been to build capacity so that all children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, get a better education.

For the last three years, as the National Schools Commissioner I have led the academy system and the development of MATs across the eight RSC regions. I now want to be even more focused on our system leaders, many of whom are playing decisive roles in multi academy trusts, dioceses and local authorities.

What better way to use this experience than to develop the leadership capacity of the system, improve governance and to support MATs to improve more quickly. I see my role as being an integral part of sharing the most effective strategies that MATs use more widely, building better benchmarking tools and sharing some of the key structural solutions for leadership, improvement, financial management and governance.

Working for an organisation that influences strategic thinking across most of our system was an important consideration for me when I was planning the next stage of my career. Making a difference where it matters the most was why I became the NSC and I am thrilled that I now have the chance to continue with this work in a new way.

The development of teachers is not simply the responsibility of those charged with leading them. If we are to raise standards even more rapidly then we must take national pride and responsibility for making this a collective endeavour.

Sir David Carter

To be successful I believe we must get closer to sharing the successful strategies that are operating across the system while challenging more critically the less convincing ones. That’s why our partnership with the Confederation of School Trusts (CST) is so important. Together we can ensure what we do is complementary and having the greatest impact, we just could not do that if we were working in competition.

I also want to work closely with trust boards and chairs. Almost without exception, the most challenging trust collapses that I worked on in my time as NSC, featured weak governance as a common denominator.

We need to help trusts understand more about the best practice in corporate governance and we should be prepared to look beyond education to source this. The strategic alliance with the CST and our Governance Leadership Programme offers us a huge opportunity to drive deeper impact in this area.

One of the gaps I observed from my NSC role was the degree to which the system has access to the most effective strategies that are making a difference for children, and this will be another focus of my work.

The Secretary of State recently announced that the Department for Education would be consulting on ways to assess MATs, which builds on the work that I started as NSC. In this new role, I want to provide an opportunity for MATs to review their performance but for the purpose of formative feedback and improvement.

I want us to develop a review model for MATs, that would include a diagnostic analysis of the performance of a trust that would be followed by time spent in the MAT meeting leaders, teachers, governors, parents and children to identify the three or four key strategic priorities for improvement.

A written review would be supported by an on-going mentoring relationship for the CEO for 12 months to support and challenge the delivery of these priorities.

The development of teachers is not simply the responsibility of those charged with leading them. If we are to raise standards even more rapidly then we must take national pride and responsibility for making this a collective endeavour.

MAT CEOs, school leaders, school improvers, universities, local authorities and of course the DfE must all place teacher development at the core of their educational strategy.

Ambition School Leadership and the Institute for Teaching already do this which is one of the main reasons why I have chosen to join them.