The question was: do I have time…?
Do I have time to do the Executive Leaders programme this year?
The course looked informative and very relevant for my changing role in headship, yet there were three residentials and other work to complete besides. I was already incredibly busy running my own school and being Vice CEO of a MAT, yet I believed ongoing professional development is crucial to moving everyone forward in every organisation, at every level.
In the end, I prioritised it, found the time and I'm truly pleased that I did. It was some of the best CPD I have undertaken in my entire education career to date.
Headship is a very busy, and often a rather lonely role. MAT leadership can feel even more so.
In a time of great educational change, enforced at break neck speed and ever shrinking budgets, headteachers and CEOs need to be creative, forward thinking and eternally positive (at least on the outside anyway. I'm sure if we are honest, we have all had our internal moments of feeling like we are climbing a mountain, in concrete boots, with a rucksack filled with lead on our backs and the weight of the world on our shoulders).
However, to have reached this stage in your career you are most likely a 'doer'; a person who sees every challenge as an opportunity and a mere obstacle to overcome, with no challenge being insurmountable.
You’re someone who will not accept mediocrity from staff or learners, and someone who never sits back and rests on their laurels. Your modus operandi is what makes you a great leader.
It's highly likely that your intrinsic motivation for your work comes from a steely determination to ensure that the children in your care, and in particular those who are the most vulnerable, are given the very best start in life that comes from a high-quality education where you make a positive difference to each and every one of their lives.
Our most vulnerable children need the most committed and dedicated leaders, and the very best staff, to engage their hearts and minds and ensure their long-term success.
If you’re even considering the programme, you’re most likely already a successful headteacher and already well abreast of the competencies you need to demonstrate for acceptance onto this course.
These are the competencies a successful headteacher demonstrates on a daily basis in their school, and for many of you, in the schools you are now increasingly responsible for in your MAT.
You may be an aspiring CEO, or Vice CEO, and looking for how you now make that transition from leading just one school to leading several schools. You may already have taken the leap to be a CEO and are now responsible for the outcomes of several schools.
Completing the application form is a lengthy process, but it forces you to take stock of your achievements to date and really focus on where you are going next as an individual and as an organisation. Completing this course is not about 'badge collecting' for your CV, but rather an opportunity to totally immerse yourself in the highest quality CPD delivered from global experts.
The course involves; residentials, phone calls, coaching sessions, 360 in depth reviews, assignments, peer groups work, presentations, online networks, and provides you with access to resource libraries and many incredibly useful case studies from expert practitioners in their field.
Facilitators of the face to face sessions are MAT CEOs doing the job right now, speaking openly and honestly about the positives as well as the pitfalls.
The residential sessions have a spirit of collaboration not competition, and children are firmly at the centre of every initiative or action discussed. It's not about empire building, it is about improving the life chances of young people.
"It was some of the best CPD I have undertaken in my entire education career to date."
From the minute you arrive on the first residential and receive your bright yellow notebook, you are surrounded by like minded, successful professionals and there is a tangible buzz and air of excitement for what is to come over the next twelve months.
The networks you build here are second to none. You meet colleagues from up and down the country, and yes, the days are long and pressure is high, but you are used to that from daily school life.
The headspace you have to reflect on what you already excel at, alongside what you need to work on, with outstanding input from world leaders in their field, is the best possible use of your time.
Having three days of Steve Radcliffe's amazing input is something I will use throughout my career and never forget. The people you meet become friends and confidants, and subsequent visits to their organisations provide on-going CPD and the sharing of best practice. The power of peers cannot be underestimated.
I often take out my yellow notebook to reflect on the residentials and my six coaching sessions and I think I always will. There are some real pearls of wisdom that I have found transformational both personally and professionally, and I use the book now to also record those 3am moments of creativity and innovative, new ideas.
The staff at Ambition are superb and I honestly cannot recommend the course highly enough. As Dylan Wiliam once said "If we create a culture where every teacher believes they need to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better still, there is no limit to what we can achieve."
So, to reflect on where we started. You haven't got the time to sign up? You haven't got the time not to.
Samantha is a graduate from our 2017 cohort of Executive Educators: Leading Several Schools, now Executive Leaders. This six-month programme builds the skills and knowledge needed to navigate the transition from headship to executive leadership of several (2+) schools.
For MAT CEOs, we have Trust Leaders, which focuses on the behaviours and mindset of a leader and provides the core technical skills to build a sustainable trust.
If you would like more information about our executive leadership offer, please fill out this enquiry form and a member of our school partnerships team will get in touch.
This article originally appeared on the website of Ambition School Leadership. In March 2019, the Institute for Teaching merged with Ambition School Leadership to form Ambition Institute.