Future Leaders impact in primary schools

Feb. 17, 2016
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The Future Leaders Trust

The Future Leaders Trust is developing exceptional headteachers for challenging schools, giving more children the best possible start in life. Over 14,000 primary school students currently attend a school led by one of our headteachers.

Data from 2015 show that pupils in primary schools led by established Future Leader headteachers are more likely to make expected progress and achieve national standards than average. 

Download the Impact Update here

Improving the life chances of disadvantaged pupils

Future Leaders’ schools have significantly more disadvantaged pupils than similar schools, as well as a higher proportion of students in the low prior attainment band, with English as an additional language, and with special educational needs than the national average.

Disadvantaged pupils are more likely to start school behind their wealthier peers and have, on average, lower attainment in every stage of compulsory education.

The work of Future Leader headteachers in primary schools plays a vital role in addressing these early inequalities and giving all children a stronger start in education.

Percentage of disadvantaged pupils (Ever6FSM) in 2014/15 Key Stage 2 cohort

Impact Update Chart 1

"Future Leader headteachers in post for two or more years have improved their schools’ results by an average of 12 percentage points since 2012 – taking them from far below to above the national average for Level 4 attainment."


There are over 14,000 primary students at schools led by our 36 primary and all-through headteachers.

Key Stage 2 results from 2015 show that Future Leader headteachers who have been in post for two or more years have improved their schools’ results by an average of 12 percentage points since 2012 – taking them from far below to above the national average for Level 4 attainment. This is despite the fact that the primary schools where Future Leaders work have a proportion of disadvantaged pupils that is almost double the national average. 

Percentage of all pupils achieving Level 4+ and making expected progress at Key Stage 2

Impact Update 2

Percentage of disadvantaged pupils (Ever6FSM) achieving Level 4+ and making expected progress at Key Stage 2

Impact Update Chart 3

Our people, their achievements

Future Leaders’ schools have a proportion of disadvantaged pupils that is almost twice the national average. Disadvantaged pupils are more likely to start school behind their wealthier peers and have, on average, lower attainment in every stage of compulsory education.

Future Leaders are committed to evening out this inequality. Read case studies from four of our primary headteachers - discussing how they are improving outcomes for pupils and closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers.

Matthew Butler

Executive Principal, Oasis Academies North Bristol

When I became Executive Principal of Oasis Academy Long Cross many students had not had the education they needed. There was so much latent talent. So we pulled out all the stops for Year 6 and the percentage achieving Level 4 or above in reading, writing and maths increased from 52% in 2013 to 73% in 2014, then to 94% in 2015.

These improvements are not isolated; six year groups are making ‘outstanding’ progress in all subjects, and pupils in the other year are making ‘good’ progress.

We make sure students are aware of the process of learning by explicitly celebrating progress. This is vital for teachers too, so I invest in professional development, with coaches drawn from our school and other Oasis academies offering teachers day-to-day support.

Our new behaviour system, implemented by my Future Leader deputy principal Amelia Nelson, combines secondary rigour with primary practice. Since it began, serious incidents have fallen by 63 percentage points and low level incidents by 69 percentage points.

"100% of 112 respondents to a parent survey believe their child is happy, safe and making good progress."

Our students now appear confident, safe and happy. As a parent myself, that’s what comes first and it’s a testament to our team; we’re about both learning and caring.

I still get support from the Future Leaders network – today it’s not because I have to but because I want to.

Being an Executive Principal means being a coach as well as a line manager; I give ideas and encourage my schools to share their practice. I have recently become Executive Principal of another primary school and its children will benefit from what we’ve learned at Long Cross. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Samantha Colburn

Head of School, Globe Primary Academy, London

Everything we do is focused on teaching and learning. Ruth Miskin, one of the UK’s leading authorities on child literacy, has said, “Every child learns to read at Globe.”

We believe that no child should be left behind. Half-termly progress tracking from Nursery onwards gives us data to plan interventions, and all EYFS and Key Stage 1 students have phonics lessons to get them started on the right foot.

Year 6 students receive extra support, with booster classes of 12 students or fewer twice weekly for 20 weeks of the year, led by outstanding teachers.

Every minute of learning counts, so we think about detail. Globe has lots of visitors because we want to share good practice, so we devised a system to minimise disruption. When visitors enter a classroom, a student ‘class manager’ welcomes them without prompting from the teacher, so the class can continue learning.

What happens in lessons is paramount, but we offer more than that. Since September, Friday afternoons have been given over to activities, from chocolate-making to exploring London, that widen students’ horizons and cement learning from the curriculum.

"Percentage of students achieving Level 4 in reading, writing and maths increased from 82% in 2012 to 89% in 2015."

We’ve implemented a new motto: “Inspiring learners to be the leaders of tomorrow.” Just because we’re not a fee-paying school doesn’t mean we don’t have a future prime minister here.

Future Leaders has undoubtedly contributed to the school’s success. I really enjoy working with a fellow Future Leader: Matt Jones, Principal of Globe Academy. We’ve had the same great training, and we share the same vision of a school where every child succeeds.

Joanne Riley

Headteacher, Randal Cremer Primary School, London

When I joined Randal Cremer big changes needed to be made, and quickly. Teachers’ development had been neglected; learning behaviour was in desperate need of improvement; aspiration was low; and there were too many children on the SEN register, meaning that there was no quality provision for children with real needs.

The school needed an overhaul of culture, so the first thing I did was to get everyone together to decide on our values: High Expectations, Equality, Love, Respect and Teamwork. Instead of school rules on posters we now display our values, so everyone knows and embraces them.

With the support of my deputy head Kim Sanett, also a Future Leader, I introduced coaching for all teachers, which is making a big difference to their practice and outcomes for students.

All our students now understand the concept of a ‘growth mindset’, which really helps them learn. I recently overheard a mum asking her son why he had made mistakes in his maths book, to which he replied, “Don’t you know you have to make mistakes to improve?”

These changes have drastically improved the quality of in-classroom teaching. We’ve reduced the number of pupils on the SEN register from 114 in September 2013 to 41 in December 2015, so we can now provide quality provision for the pupils who really need it, and excellent classroom teaching for all.

"Introduced subsidised school trips to improve students' aspirations. All children can attend regardless of their carers' financial situation. "

Outside the classroom we’ve introduced school trips to raise students’ aspirations, as well as an ‘Into University’ scheme for Year 6. These extra-curriculars are heavily subsidised by the school; I won’t let any child miss out because their family can’t afford for them to take part.

Future Leaders training helped me realise that all children can excel in their own way; it’s about finding their talents and not placing limits upon them because of challenging circumstances in their lives.

Andrew Day

Executive Director, Northumberland CofE Academy

I joined Future Leaders because I wanted to make a difference, and leading an all-through academy is a real opportunity to do that throughout a student’s school journey. Working with children when they are younger means we can make an impact as early as possible, and hopefully mitigate the effects of deprivation, which are very evident in our coastal community.

All of our campuses, across which we teach over 2,500 children, are in the top 10% most deprived wards in the country. My aim is that the schools will become catalysts for change in the wider community: it starts with the children.

This change has already begun: when I arrived only 59% of students achieved Level 4 or above at Key Stage 2, but this has increased to 83% in 2015; teaching quality has improved from 49% ‘good’ or better to over 90% in some schools; and footfall in our libraries has increased by 365%.

"Percentage of disadvantaged students achieving Level 4 in reading, writing and maths increased from 50% in 2012 to 77% in 2015."

But there’s still a long way to go. We are determined that our young people will succeed, setting unfailingly high expectations and an ambitious culture. This focus on achieving the very best starts the minute a child enters one of our primary schools, and continues even after they have left post-16 – we are the only school in Northumberland where all students go on to further education, training or employment.

We have a big focus on involving our community, but we don’t just want them to help us – we help them too, for example by providing CV workshops, or after-school clubs to help with childcare.

Future Leaders provided me with the learning platform to achieve what I have, and I really value working with other Future Leaders in-school. It’s fantastic to work alongside like-minded people with a similar ethos and optimism about changing children’s lives.

Read more stories and case studies from our participants on The Insights Blog

The Future Leaders network

The Future Leaders programme 

Future Leaders is a leadership development programme for those who share our belief that every child can and should achieve, and who have the talent and commitment to become headteachers. Future Leaders work in primary, secondary, all-through and alternative provision schools that serve the country’s most economically disadvantaged areas.

Future Leaders are supported to make a positive, sustainable impact through:

  • regular training beginning with residential leadership development and continuing with regional events throughout the year;
  • mentoring and coaching from an experienced current or former head;
  • our network of over 800 school leaders share practice and resources via regular events and our online platform.

Our growing primary network

There are 117 Future Leaders working in senior leadership and headship positions in primary schools and all-through schools across the country. We have supported 36 people to primary and all-through headship since our first primary head was appointed in 2013. Over 14,000 primary school students attend a school led by a Future Leader.

Number of primary Future Leaders and headteachers

Network chart

From senior leader to CEO

Ten years ago we offered one programme – Future Leaders – but have grown to develop programmes for all stages of senior leadership. All of our training is tailored for leaders working in challenging schools. 

  • Leading Impact provides aspiring and current senior leaders with the skills to make a positive difference in their schools.
  • Headship Now! provides career support and leadership development for those who are 12 to 18 months from headship.
  • Talented Leaders recruits exceptional headteachers and supports them to lead the schools that need them most.
  • The Headship Institute offers heads of challenging schools access to a dedicated network.
  • Executive Educators provides aspiring and current CEOs of multi-academy trusts with the knowledge, skills and network needed for these challenging new roles.

Find out more about our programmes here, and about our impact in secondary, alternative provision and all-through schools here

You can get in touch with us by calling our Candidate Services team on 
0800 009 4142. 

This article originally appeared on the website of the Ambition School Leadership. In March 2019 the Institute for Teaching merged with Ambition School Leadership to form Ambition Institute. 

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