Edfest: Leadership for the Future

Chris Husbands from the Institute of Education talking about future school leaders. Wooden floor and lots of late comers making it difficult to hear and follow the first part.

Are we heading for a fully marketised school system? Chile operates close to this – 75% of children are in private schools. Are we moving towards a system of school commissioners? Or should we refocus existing structures, offering school leaders new sets of skills?

Innovation is great, but must be balanced with coherence. We also need to plan to make sure that schools appear in the right places, and that we square the excitement of dynamic innovation with the needs of the vulnerable in our school system.

Chris hands over to Steve Munby, who is involved in CfBT, a 21-school academy chain. He points out that the state system is massively different to how it was 20 years ago, and asks what kind of leads hip is needed in this very diverse system? He suggests, a power-love combo. Drive, high expectations, no compromise, a relentless determination to raise standards and achieve better outcomes. Great leaders never lower their expectations. Push things to their conclusions and make the connections. Stirring stuff. Be challenging AND open to challenge; be competitive AND collaborative. Existing heads, asked what they’d do differently, say they would be more challenging. Leadership by power alone, however, will not take people with you. Be inclusive and engaging. Don’t compromise on high expectations, but seek out opportunities to accept challenges and engagement from your staff.

Accountability is important in the system – no autonomy without accountability – but it needs to be consistent, coherent and fair. Ofsted is important, then. Writing, summarising, analysing, looking at the details – all important skills for Ofsted inspectors, though not the same skill set held by all successful HTs, so HTs don’t make the best inspectors.

Steve refers to the myth that there is no competitiveness in state schools. Of course school leaders want their schools to improve and perform better, but collaboration is vital to avoid polarising – very good and very bad schools. The drum of state-independent collaboration is beaten again, as is collaboration between academy chains. If this was happening, how would it look? We should help when schools re in trouble rather than gloat. When schools do well, we ask how rather than make excuses.

Some good Q&A afterwards, but lots of agenda pushing too!

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