Finding peers in the mission against inequality

In 2010, Rachel O'Halleron began her journey as a Future Leader. Since then, she's been a school leader, worked for disadvantaged children, and she now leads one of Ambition Institute's programmes. In this blog, she discusses how it's not just what she learnt on the programme that defined her, it's also the connections she made with her fellow peers.

Randal Cremer_child watering plants

This time in 2010, I was nervously awaiting my assessment centre for a place on the Future Leaders cohort. Little did I know that becoming a part of the Ambition network would change my life. That could be read as hyperbole, but for me, it is absolutely true.  

Ambition Institute (and its predecessor organisations) has always prided itself on ensuring the right people come onto our programmes: teachers and educators whose focus is on improving the life chances of children. Those who see inequality and want to give children the same opportunity and experience of their more economically advantaged peers.  

This mission-driven focus is unwavering and, whilst some elements of the programmes have changed, Ambition Institute remains committed to bringing together mission-focused educators so that we can build an education system where every child can thrive, no matter what their background.  

I come from a working-class background and I was the first person in my family to go to university, but it was at my first event with Ambition that opened my eyes to why this mission is so needed. We live in a world where your place of birth and the income of your parents has a greater influence on your life chances than your abilities or potential for success. Fast forward ten years and the effects of austerity and cuts in the system mean that Ambition’s programmes are needed more than ever.  

Now working as Programme Leader, I feel privileged to be supporting some of Ambition’s many inspiring educators on their journeys. The content and shape of our programmes may have changed, however that which has always made them powerful remains; the alumni.  

My network has kept me motivated when things were tough, given me the support to keep going and the resources to help me keep getting better. My fellow participants gave me insight and helped me to become a better, more effective leader, always holding me up through this brilliant opportunity to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children.  

I’m continually in awe of the achievements of my peers from across the network, their commitment and relentless focus to build a fair education system. 

As an alumna turned Programme Leader, I can tell you that at Ambition we value you and are really proud to work with you. It’s through you that we reach disadvantaged children who need our support the most. We are all focused on this mission and together we are making a difference.