Staff retention and pupil achievement key issues faced by the North

June 9, 2017

Ambition School Leadership has released a report highlighting how education in the North is not enabling children to reach their full potential, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The report also provides an overview of its impact in the region.

When compared to other children from disadvantaged backgrounds in the rest of England, those across the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber make less progress and achieve less in school. 

However, the report shows that Ambition School Leadership’s development of its programmes’ participants is benefiting schools in the North, with disadvantaged pupils in these schools demonstrating above-average levels of achievement and progress.

Inequality goes beyond parental income and background, with one of the key issues identified as attracting and retaining the best teachers and ultimately leaders. Without a strong network of leaders in the North, schools are unlikely to be able to recruit, develop and retain those figureheads needed.

Recruitment of effective leaders is a particular challenge. In deprived areas of the North, 77% of headteachers struggled to attract the best talent as opposed to just 50% in non-deprived areas.

Ambition School Leadership programmes help retain staff within the sector. Leaders who have been part of the Future Leaders and Teaching Leaders programmes remain in the northern schools most in need of great leadership. 

Across the North, 89% of participants who began the Teaching Leaders programme in 2014 and graduated in 2016 continued to work in the schools that supported them through the programme. Similarly, in the Future Leaders programme, 97% of secondary leaders and 98% of primary leaders who were in headship in November 2015 were still leading schools by November 2016.

Research has shown that school leaders are central to school improvement and our data suggests a similar pattern. In schools where primary participants in their first year of Teaching Leaders were responsible for maths, 66% of disadvantaged pupils met expected standards. The regional average was 58%.

In schools led by a Future Leaders participant, disadvantaged pupils make more progress, on average, than in other schools in the North. Over the past two years, in schools led by established Future Leaders participants, the proportion of disadvantaged pupils attaining A*-C in English and maths has improved each year by an average of four percentage points. The regional average was two percentage points.

Ambition School Leadership is committed to working across its communities to change the lives of disadvantaged children in the North. Ambition currently has a network of nearly 1,500 leaders across the region, working in both urban and rural areas and in the most challenging contexts. These leaders are connected to each other and to our national network during their programme and after completion.

Ambition School Leadership has worked with schools in the North since 2006 and currently has over 600 school partners and has developed 1,200 leaders in the area, from middle leaders to heads.

Download the full report 'How great leadership is transforming schools in the North' to find out more.