We hear a lot about the moral drivers behind leadership so it was inspirational to meet two heads who feel this moral imperative so strongly that they relocate during the working week, in order to lead troubled schools in communities where their skills are most needed.
Nicola Fisher leaves Wigan at five o’clock every Monday morning to travel to Birmingham where she is head of Moor Green Primary School. The school was in special measures when she took over last September, and the change she has led is palpable – the children are happy and engaged in their learning, and staff morale is growing rapidly.
We were joined on my visit by Wendy Baxter, head of Ark Chamberlain (formerly Oldknow Academy) in Birmingham. This is a 600-pupil junior school which Wendy is leading out of special measures. Wendy leaves Yorkshire to serve the school during the week.
Nicola and Wendy were recruited under the NCTL Talented Leaders programme run by the Future Leaders Trust. Under this scheme they receive up to £15K relocation allowance to be a headteacher at a challenging school in areas of the country where they are most needed, mentoring from an experienced head, a tailored training package, and £50K to spend on staff and governor development to build leadership capacity and strengthen succession planning within the school.
They have both found this extra resource invaluable in helping them to make a rapid impact in their schools. Wendy, for example, has been able to take her leadership team away to spend the day at an outstanding school in Yorkshire.
As part of the programme each school benefits from having the talented leader in post for a minimum of three years, at which point strategies will have been put in place to ensure long term sustainable improvements are made within the school.
I look forward to seeing the future impact that this national initiative will have as we all know that being a great teacher is about making a difference.
The recently published White Paper shows that the Government is committed to ensuring that the best schools and best school leaders can lead the way in helping others to improve, so that national education programmes are supportive rather than top-down or prescriptive. To ensure that this vision of supported autonomy works to its full potential, all education professionals need to take up the mantle, be ambitious and work together towards achieving educational excellence everywhere.
For more information about the Talented Leader programme please visit the Future Leaders Trust website.
For more information or opportunities to get involved with our work, visit our pages on GOV.UK.