Ambition School Leadership hosts regional launch events

Jan. 27, 2017

Ambition School Leadership recently began a series of regional events, following its November 2016 public launch, which introduced the new organisation’s mission, strategic commitments and programmes to its nationwide network.

Ambition School Leadership CEO James Toop was in attendance throughout the roadshow and was joined by guest speakers at each event. 

On 10 January 2017 Clifton Primary School in Birmingham hosted the first regional launch, which brought together programme participants and alumni from the West Midlands, headteachers and system leaders from our partner schools and regional influencers in the education sector.

The next event, at The Open Academy in Norwich on 11 January, facilitated a discussion amongst delegates on how investment can be leveraged in the region to improve social mobility for students. 

In attendance was Paul Brooker HMI, Regional Director for Ofsted, who identified the key problems facing the region and described ‘leadership’ as the solution to these challenges. 

He highlighted that when an Ofsted report says ‘This school is well-led’, inspectors are not just referring to the headteacher: great leadership should be embedded at all levels, with every adult at a school leading within their own remit.

The Ambition School Leadership regional events continued with the Yorkshire and Humberside launch on Friday 13 January, arriving in Leeds at Cockburn High School. CEO of local multi-academy trust (MAT) Dixons, and leader of the Northern Powerhouse school strategy, Sir Nick Weller, initiated conversation and debate about how the North can better serve its disadvantaged pupils. 

He said, “In [Dixons Academies Trust schools in] Bradford, if we don’t close the gap within the first two years, when a four-year-old arrives at our school they’re not going to be ready for the rest of their primary education”.

REAch2’s Chief Executive, Sir Steve Lancashire, closed the Yorkshire and Humberside launch by endorsing Ambition School Leadership as an important partner in achieving REAch2’s Leadership Propositions, and that the drive the organisation has for building a fairer society in disadvantaged areas enables greater impact. 

On 17 January the Ambition School Leadership regional launch tour stopped in Nottingham at The Nottingham Emmanuel School. Here, CEO James Toop was joined by Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange, and Wayne Norrie, Chief Executive of Greenwood Dale Academies Trust. 

Through a mixture of keynote speeches and interactive discussions, delegates discussed how education could help tackle social mobility in the East Midlands.

Beginning the discussion Simons touched on how the current government has focused its attentions on those that are ‘Just About Managing’, or in educational terms, those families just above the Pupil Premium (PP) threshold, who the Prime Minister believes are not getting enough help and who have the hardest journey to make a success of their lives. 

Norrie spoke about the role of confident leaders and said those who are unafraid to be ambitious are what the system needs. He went on to note how Ambition School Leadership is able to facilitate this by developing leaders at all levels who are not “clones” but people who are brave enough to make their own decisions. 

Shortly after, on 19 January, the penultimate regional launch event, for the North, was held at Oasis Academy Oldham. Alongside CEO James Toop, speakers included CEOs of local multi-academy trusts (MATs): Sir Nick Weller, Chief Executive at Dixons Academy Trust and author of the Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy; and Stephen Tierney, CEO of the Blessed Edward Bamber Catholic Multi-Academy Trust (BEBCMAT) and Chair of the Headteachers’ Roundtable. 

Speaking of his own MAT, Sir Nick discussed the need for strong leaders to drive change in Northern schools to improve education and life outcomes of pupils, noting that many of his leaders – from middle leaders to headteachers – are on programmes offered by Ambition School Leadership.

As the CEO of a MAT operating in an Opportunity Area, Tierney cited the level of need and lack of resources as some of the challenges faced in the North. He went on to explain that high-quality leadership can help to address these challenges – but leaders must be “in it for the long haul” as change may not happen even within the first two to three years. Leaders, he said need to be committed to a school long enough to implement sustainable, positive change.

The following week, on the 26 January, our regional launch events concluded with a visit to Oasis Academy Brightstowe to officially launch our presence in the south west. 

James Toop welcomed everyone to the school and announced that Ambition would be opening a new delivery hub in Exeter, as part of the organisation’s growth into the areas of the country which most need great school leadership.

Explaining the move, he said, “Our goal is to be a catalyst for leaders to improve children's outcomes and develop their leadership. There is great work going on across the country. We want to connect the bright spots.”

Here he was joined by Rebecca Clark, Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West and previously a principal and executive principal in Bristol, and Nick Haisman-Smith, Chief Executive of Family Links and The Nurturing Schools Network.

Rebecca spoke about the importance of delivering an excellent education for every child while Nick discussed the need for providing emotional health and well-being services for students, parents and teachers.  

Thanking the speakers, James Toop summed up the event and outlined Ambition School Leadership’s role: improving outcomes for children in the regions it works within and working to develop great leaders, nurture a network, research great leadership practice and offer strategic support to local networks.

Read Ambition School Leadership’s launch report: Ambitious for every child