Ambition School Leadership - Yorkshire and Humberside launch

Jan. 16, 2017

The Ambition School Leadership regional events continued on Friday 13 January, arriving in Leeds at Cockburn High School.

CEO James Toop was joined by REAch2’s Chief Executive, Sir Steve Lancashire. Delegates also heard from CEO of local multi academy trust Dixons, and leader of the Northern Powerhouse school strategy, Sir Nick Weller.

This combined with Steve Lancashire’s Northern roots and passion for the region led to stimulating conversation and debate about how the North can better serve its disadvantaged pupils.

Nick Weller began by highlighting the need for an organisation like Ambition School Leadership because of its focus on disadvantaged areas and pupils; a group who do not achieve as highly in the North as their Southern peers; particularly those living in London.

He identified a number of factors that could help improve the situation:

  • Learn from the successes of South and London and apply these strategies to the North.
  • One lesson which he highlighted was the approach to children’s early education. He said, “In [Dixons Academies Trust schools in] Bradford, if we don’t close the gap in 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”.
  • Look at schools in the North which are succeeding in areas of high deprivation and learn from them, particularly around Progress 8 and the curriculum.

Sir Steve Lancashire built on this by sharing the reasons behind Reach 2’s successes in such areas. Lancashire said Reach2’s achievements are “based on brilliant leadership”.

He shared the academy chain’s ‘Seven Leadership Propositions’ which are at the core of all the trust’s schools’ values, at all levels. Sir Steve focused on three of the propositions in particular:

  • Leadership is concerned with transformation and improvement: Doing the same thing won’t be enough. Schools need to transform by embracing alternative approaches to suit the needs of different areas and communities.
  • Leadership is about collective capacity: The academy focuses on leadership qualities and abilities at all levels and for everybody ensuring “collaboration not competition”.
  • Leadership is a moral activity: The organisation believes that moral purpose in leadership is simply “doing the right thing”. If the academy is able to make an impact and use its expertise in disadvantaged areas, then they should.

Lancashire closed 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.

James Toop expanded on this, saying he wants to bring together like-minded schools and educators in the North to break negative trends and cycles and improve the education system for those who need it most.

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