Before I discovered Future Leaders, I had found myself repeatedly coming up against barriers in trying to move into leadership.
It felt like colleagues at my level were always moving into new roles and gaining new opportunities.
So, I decided to take a bold step with my career when I discovered Future Leaders – it was clear that the programme was dedicated to supporting resilient and forward-thinking teachers, ready to move into school leadership.
The Ambition team shared some great feedback with me during the application process and I was soon able to demonstrate and articulate the impact that I’d had on the pupils, colleagues and schools I’d worked with throughout my career, as well as the skills and collaborative approach necessary to step into headship.
Vision and ethos
One of the biggest things I learnt from Future Leaders is the importance of designing a vision and ethos that encourages ownership and a shared purpose for all school stakeholders.
Designing that vision, gaining the support of colleagues and pupils, and bringing it about through a well-thought-out strategy underpins my thinking. The Future Leaders mantra of ‘high expectations for every child’ still strong resonates with me and the programme has helped me to work towards a culture where every child can thrive.
A strategic approach
Future Leaders prepared me for school leadership by enabling me to think like a senior leader and understand what the role would involve. I started to think about actions and events in terms of their whole-school impact, and how they fed into a strategic approach in a way I wouldn’t have done previously.
A supportive network
Collaborating with other participants and coaching from expert facilitators was instrumental to my development, as it helped me to learn from a vast range of experience and resources. Throughout the programme there was a focus on supporting my journey to headship, but also on something bigger – increasing the opportunities and life chances of the children who need it the most.
I still work closely with members of my cohort. We share best practice and ideas, and access to the Ambition network is the biggest legacy I have taken forward in my day-to-day role as a headteacher.
"Three years after completing the programme my school was one of the most improved schools in Tyneside, and second most improved in the North-East"
A measurable impact
There was noticeable impact within my first six months on the programme. I was able to guide and support colleagues to improve our schools’ GCSE results with a 10% rise in A*-C grades. By year two, and with the support of other colleagues, this increased to 20%.
Poor behaviour also decreased by 50% over two years. Three years after completing the programme my school was one of the most improved schools in Tyneside, and second most improved in the North-East, according to Progress 8 figures.
Looking beyond the present
The North-East faces greater challenges than much of the country around issues such as retention, recruitment and leadership training as there are limited opportunities to develop supportive senior leadership teams.
A large proportion of budgets are focused on immediate results and meeting targets, but geographically restricted schools need to be able to build teams with the right skills.
For example, in inner city schools where there is a great need for headteachers, there are many talented middle leaders who want to move into senior leadership but not headship. Conversely, in remote rural and coastal areas there tends to be a gap in senior leaders.
Bringing aspiring leaders like me together through programmes like Future Leaders creates great opportunities for collaboration that offer real value to the schools, teachers and pupils that Ambition School Leadership serves.
To find out more about the Future Leaders programme, register your interest here.
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.