Why I think Future Leaders is a career-defining programme

Feb. 27, 2019
Matthew Burton

Matthew Burton

Deputy Headteacher, Thornhill Community Academy

With a feeling of trepidation, I pressed ‘submit’ and sent my application into the ether.

The process of application for Future Leaders would, I thought, be reasonably straightforward. Which it was. The process of searching my professional soul to consider examples of where I had shown vision, integrity, moral purpose and other competencies was anything but. 

If you’ve arrived at the point where you’re thinking about the application process for Future Leaders, then you’ll already be well abreast of the competencies you’ll need to demonstrate. None of these are rocket science, either literally or metaphorically.  

These are all what a good school leader, and aspirant headteacher, demonstrates on a daily basis. The application process is merely an opportunity to show them off, to talk about what you do, but more importantly to talk about how you do it, and why you’re doing it. 

That’s the thing that sets apart the ‘doers’ to the ‘leaders’ – it’s the how you operate and why you’re choosing to make those decisions. More often than not, it’ll come down to one thing – that you work with the most vulnerable children in the country because of an absolute determination to make a positive difference to their lives.  

You haven’t got into the teaching profession for a career spent relaxing – you are someone who genuinely wants to leave the world in an ever so slightly better way than you found it. 

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Remember that throughout the application process. No part of it – the application form, the assessment centres or the technical competency tasks – could be regarded as ‘easy’, but it’s not about forcing yourself to be something you aren’t in order to get onto the programme; it’s often about having an opportunity to step back from the day-to-day job and remind yourself how effective and knowledgeable you actually are.  

The hardest part, though, is the waiting to find out whether you’ve been accepted. After that email, there’ll be reading, online seminars, arrangements, visits, phone calls, and the realisation that you’re ‘on’.  

Then comes the summer residential. On the face of it, a week long leadership residential in Warwick probably ranks below a cruise round the Mediterranean or a couple of all-inclusive weeks in Florida as a summer holiday destination, but stay with me… 

From the afternoon the residential begun – within, I’d say, ten minutes – it truly was transformative.  

It’s easy to operate as you do, and that becomes a modus operandi when times are tough in school and pressures are high., Having this week of headspace to reflect on what you excel at already, and what you need to work on, with some absolutely outstanding input from world leaders in their fields is quite possibly the best use of a summer holiday week one will ever have.  

Not to say it’s easy – days are long and pressure is high – but to work at your craft for a week, to work with like-minded individuals and to take bits away to improve your practice is the perfect kick start to what I genuinely think is a career-defining programme. 


To register your interest in the Future Leaders programme please fill out the form and our School Partnerships team will be in touch to answer any questions you may have and to discuss next steps.

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