Thank a Teacher Day 2022

For #ThankaTeacherDay 2022, we wanted to say thank you to each and every one of the amazing teachers and leaders who work with us.

From teachers at the very start of their careers, to executive leaders of groups of schools, we want to say thank you for all that you do.

You’ve chosen to take part in professional development, even though you are busy and balancing a heavy workload.

We think that you do this because you can see the value that the drive to keep getting better brings to the pupils in your classroom.

A great teacher changes the future every day. Especially for children who’ve had a tough start in life, a teacher can be the critical factor in their success.

At Ambition Institute, we support school leaders and teachers to raise the bar and deliver positive change, in the classroom and across their school. We are a charity offering training and professional development, based on the most rigorous research and evidence about what really works. We work with teachers and school leaders to help them keep getting better, shaping the future of education, and the future of every child.

We’re currently working with 26,718 teachers and leaders on our programmes. Their stories are powerful, positive and inspiring.

We can’t tell all of their stories here today, but we wanted to share a few:


Maria Hawkes is Vice Principal at Kings Heath Primary Academy, and serves as both induction co-ordinator and mentor for new teachers taking part in Ambition Institute’s Early Career Teachers programme.

She felt driven to take this role supporting new teachers because of how much the profession had changed during her career. She had seen first-hand how many competing challenges new teachers had to grapple with, and wanted to support them to make the best possible start.

She said: “You can have been teaching for a long time - I'm not in my first flush of youth - but I wanted to show that you can still be enthusiastic, you can still have that energy.

“Yes, you still have moments where you want to hide in the cupboard, it's not a Disney film, but I wanted to let teachers know that it is possible to maintain enthusiasm for developing as a teacher even when you’ve been teaching for a while.”

Maria’s early career teachers are particularly benefitting from the small and specific action steps that the programme uses. As a mentor, she picks a single granular area of practice for each teacher to focus on each week, based on her short, targeted observations. She has worked hard to make this a supportive process - reminding teachers that sometimes they will be revisiting a concept or theory they already ‘know’ because she has spotted an opportunity for them to keep getting better.

Even before one excited early career teacher burst into her office, waving a piece of paper with his pupils’ latest results, Maria felt that early career teachers were experiencing success in the early stages of the programme. When she saw his renewed enthusiasm, as the small tweaks to his practice helped him solve real challenges in his classroom, it confirmed her belief in this granular approach.

You can read more about Maria’s story here.


At first glance, Amy Blackburn’s office looks like any other headteacher’s. It’s full of books, photos and the odd marker pen.

But there’s one thing that makes it stand out: a lanyard with a visitor badge from a renowned private school. The school - which costs £42,000 a year to attend - is just 250 miles away from Amy’s school in Stockton-upon-Tees, but it might as well be a million.

Amy, who is headteacher at Oxbridge Lane Primary School in Stockton, visited the school as part of a study trip with Ambition Institute back in 2015

She said: “Going on that visit was an experience that really shaped me as a head. To see the level of privilege, and to know that our children should’ve had the same experience; it made me feel physically sick.

“The children in our school have so many challenges to face before they even get to school,” Amy says passionately. “It’s our moral duty to give them the best possible primary education we can.”

She’s been in post for two years and two terms, and is already making a huge impact. Amy's work at the school has helped to develop the appetite for learning in her team, and improved the developmental journey of the staff around her.

She said: “I feel very proud of what we’ve achieved together – and is a joint effort.

To read Amy’s story, click here.

"A great teacher changes the future every day. Especially for children who’ve had a tough start in life, a teacher can be the critical factor in their success."


“What next?” was the question at the front of Mary Campbell’s mind when she received an email from the CPD lead at Canons High School. The email outlined the Ambition Institute’s Expert Middle Leaders programme – and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Now in her second year of the two-year programme, she’s already seen changes in her teaching and leadership style.

“My role has been heavily pastoral,” said Mary, “with lots of focus on parental engagement. But forming a structural curriculum was one of my weak spots, so I wanted to strengthen that. Also, Ofsted had recently focused on our curriculum, so the programme was ideal and has helped me lots in understanding how to plan one.”

"The programme helped me so much when the whole school had to re-do the curriculum, I was able to use what I had learnt. It’s given me the knowledge, skills and confidence to be able to deliver the curriculum.”

Writing her vision for the department was another element of the programme that helped Mary to clarify her focus and inspiration for her work.

“That vision that I’ve written, it’s alive. It reminds me why I do what I do and it inspires me and excites me for the future.”

Read Mary's story here.


Ask Matthew Parris how he thinks of Minster Trust for Education (MITRE), and one phrase springs to mind: ‘a family of schools’. But family dynamics can be complicated, and as CEO of the trust, Matthew knows this better than anyone.

On the one hand, the schools share a common vision in their commitment to providing the best possible education for the children in their care. On the other hand, all the schools that joined the trust initially were already rated good or outstanding, and arrived with a strong desire to maintain their autonomy. So, as the trust found its feet and started to flourish, there were bound to be a few teething troubles. The question was, as leader of the trust, how was Matthew going to deal with them.

Inspiration came in the form of the Ambition Institute’s Trust Leaders development programme. Thanks to seminars and conferences, Matthew was able to look to examples of good practice from across the country and apply them to his own Midlands-based trust. The Olympus Academy Trust showed him how to develop an effective scheme of delegation. Likewise, STEP Academy Trust provided a “no compromise” model for Matthew to consider, where unity is prioritised and support is built around a clear mission and vision. Matthew also made use of the Confederation of School Trusts’ (CST) Improvement Capacity Framework for Trust Governance, a self-assessment tool that sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to be a governor or trustee.

Matthew and his team haven’t finished yet. Their next steps include appointing a lead practitioner for governance and bringing clerking in-house as a trust service, so that clerks operate more closely in alignment with MITRE expectations across individual schools. But he has already seen the positive results of changes made so far. Everyone has a much clearer understanding of their individual roles and responsibilities. There is more support for decision making, stronger relationships between the trust Board and the LGBs, and improved communication in all directions. With well-designed, bespoke governance training in place, there is more commonality of purpose and more appreciation of trust-wide responsibilities. Most importantly, says Matthew, he can now see a clear “culture of togetherness and common purpose with developing respect and trust between tiers of governance and leadership”.

Whether it’s the family you’re born into or the family you find in the workplace, relationships are knitted together with strong communication, mutual trust, clarity of purpose and shared expectations. The effects of this can be transformative. As the mission statement of the MITRE family puts it: “together we help every child to flourish, opening doors to fulfilling futures”.

Read Matthew's story here.

Evidence says that the quality of teaching you get is by far the biggest factor within school that makes a difference to what you achieve. It’s actually three times greater than the impact of any other factor within the school’s control (RAND, 2019).

For children who’ve had a tough start in life, it’s even more important. Too many children from disadvantaged backgrounds fall behind their classmates. This gap doubles by the end of primary school, and doubles again at the end of secondary school. When they leave, they’re three times less likely to end up in employment, education or training. And yet, for those children, a great teacher can make an even bigger difference to their success at school, and in life.

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