Early Leadership Development – my story

I started teaching at the turn of the millennium. Reflecting on my early years, I am massively grateful for the many opportunities I was given to grow in a supportive culture that trusted me to take on leadership responsibility, even while I still had so much to learn.

When I think of things I was involved in, it must have required a leap of faith for school leaders:

  • subject/department responsibilities, form tutor, assemblies, gifted and talented, Investors In People group, staff training, mentoring, initial teacher training, school trips/exchanges, a Teachers International Professional Development visit, leadership development.

I was keen to get fully involved in school life and didn’t want to miss an opportunity! As I look back, I learned a lot, made some mistakes and at times probably tried to do too much at once.

I don’t think any of it would have been possible without the more experienced leaders and colleagues who helped and guided me. My NQT mentor was unwaveringly supportive, my senior leadership link was only a few years older and an inspiring role model, and there was a great peer group of teachers. Professional development opportunities were abundant. In short, the conditions were created in which leadership development could thrive. I benefited, and so did many others.

One of the most significant opportunities came when my headteacher put me forward for the SSAT Developing Leaders for Tomorrow programme. It was a new programme, and brought together enthusiastic young leaders from across the country. We had incredible access to school and system leaders, as well as academics such as Professor David Hargreaves who was leading the work on personalising learning and the four ‘Deeps’. We took part in school visits and attended national events, including the SSAT National Conference. These experiences opened my eyes to educational practice beyond the confines of my local context, gave me confidence and were exciting to be part of.

When I joined SSAT in 2009, it was a huge privilege to be directly involved in the design and delivery of leadership programmes, and to learn from leaders I had only previously seen on stage before. Every day was a school day! Today one of the most enjoyable aspects of my role is working with the next generation of school leaders.

Reflection questions:

  • Who inspired you in your early leadership development?
  • How are you developing the next generation of outstanding leaders?

Some next steps:

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