Ambition School Leadership - North launch

Jan. 20, 2017

On 19 January Ambition School Leadership arrived at Oasis Academy Oldham on the penultimate stop on our regional launch tour.

At the event CEO James Toop was joined by two keynote speakers, both 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.

Both speakers discussed social mobility in the North West as well as some of the challenges faced by schools in the area.

First to speak was Sir Nick Weller, who stated that the main message of his Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy could best be summarised by Ambition School Leadership’s mission statement: ‘Every child. Every school, Same opportunities’.

Sir Nick then explored the gap between disadvantaged students and their peers, uniform across the country with the exception of London where the gap is significantly smaller. He noted the gap in London has historically been the largest in the county, but through the well-publicised Government-backed focus on improving the capital that pattern has been reversed. The change in fortune for London’s schools has been based on research-based innovation inspired largely by the Charter schools in America, and Sir Nick now hopes to emulate this model in the North.

Sir Nick identified two key strategic necessities for any leader looking to improve their school:

  • Focus on improving the chances of disadvantaged students
  • The conditions to allow less of a focus on school improvement and stretching resources, and more on improving the quality of learning

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.

Our next speaker, Stephen Tierney, also focused on the importance of leadership in improving the life chances of students. As the CEO of a MAT operating in an Opportunity Area, Tierney discussed some of the challenges faced in the North, particularly the level of need and lack of resources.

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 will not happen overnight, or even within the first two to three years. Leaders, he reiterated need to be committed to a school long enough to implement sustainable, positive change.

Tierney said, “We can’t recruit ourselves out of [the challenges we face]. The only way to solve [them] is through retention.” However, he also discussed the need for a regional recruitment strategy to ensure there are enough leaders in all areas.

The event closed with our CEO James Toop discussing how Ambition School Leadership aims to address many of the challenges raised by the two speakers, including improving teacher retention and providing a clear career pathway for teachers so that we have a leadership pipeline. By working in disadvantaged areas, including the Opportunity Areas, Ambition School Leadership aims to improve the lives of the children who need it most through implementing great leadership.

Find out more about our programmes.