We interviewed Juliette to find out about her experience of the Teaching Leaders programme. Here’s what she had to say.
The Teaching Leaders programme made me realise that you can’t work alone.
It’s through a shared vision and a supported team that we can make the biggest impact. And that is exactly what the programme enabled me to do – to build a stronger team and, in turn, improve the life chances for our pupils.
I remember the very first meeting that I organised for my department. It was about vision building, and I was very anxious about how to make sure everyone was working to the same goal. I was keen to make sure this information permeated through everything that we did, but wasn’t sure how. From the displays on the walls to the messages that pupils were being given – I wanted to make sure there was a real consistency in what we did and said.
Confidence is key
Ambition Institute taught me that developing leadership at all levels within the department, as well as others across the school, is hugely important in achieving a shared goal.
As a result of the programme, I was able to work with my peers to develop a hub of middle leaders to ensure that we could support the development of the whole school. This was something quite new for Hollingworth at the time, but Teaching Leaders gave me the confidence to do it.
It taught me about managing upwards and how to work with those who are in positions of seniority to me. All of this really supported where I wanted to take the department at that time.
Confidence is one of the biggest things I gained from the Teaching Leaders programme. The different elements of the programme taught me how to be an authentic leader and recognise the skills I had within myself. Coming from a challenging background, a leadership role wasn’t necessarily laid out for me. The Teaching Leaders programme opened this door. It enabled me to realise I could make a difference – for myself, my family, and the pupils I serve.
Feedback is a gift
The coaching that I undertook as part of the programme was crucial in making this change.
Initially, I was scared to put myself out there and talk openly about the professional challenges I faced. But this was an essential step in my own development. It enabled me to identify the capacity I needed to build, and see I could achieve it.
Since graduating from the programme, developing a culture of giving honest feedback has been one of my main priorities. In practice, this means asking ‘how was that?’ and ‘how can we improve it further?’ after everything we do. I’m encouraging others to take up this mantle and peer review to make sure that we are always moving forward.
My colleagues say that actively looking for feedback is one of my strengths. I believe that I’ve learnt this lesson from Ambition – the determination to keep getting better in everything that I do.
The Teaching Leaders programme has made such a significance difference to my development that I’m now committed to finding opportunities to give something back. I lead and assess on some of the Ambition NPQ programmes and I’m the in-school liaison for the staff that are currently on programme; I’m really excited work with them to accelerate the impact we are having on our pupils’ learning.
I believe that the more I put back into the programme, the better the opportunity to build an education system where every child can thrive, no matter what their background.
Three years on, I’m now in role as Assistant Headteacher and am completing Ambition Institute’s women-only Headship programme to support me on my journey to Headship. Before the Teaching Leaders programme, I could never have imagined taking this step.
Before, I certainly didn’t have the confidence to aspire towards headship. But although sometimes I still struggle to visualise myself in this new role, I recognise that I’ve got the skill set to do it and the capacity to make a real difference to the lives of young people. Although it might be difficult to visualise, I know that it is the right way forward.
The Teaching Leaders programme is the best professional development for middle leaders that I’ve seen, experienced, or heard of. The network you build up through Ambition is one that you will keep coming back to throughout your career.
I’m still in touch with the people I met on the programme, and we have regular conversations about how we are getting better. It’s made a massive difference to my own career – and this, in turn, has impacted pupils that I work with.
So, if you’re thinking of applying or nominating someone for the programme – go for it. I promise it’s a decision you won’t regret.
To find out more about the Teaching Leaders programme, register your interest here.