Reading time: 2 minutes. Relevant member benefit: SSAT Leadership Legacy Project
Leadership legacy fellow Holly Henderson, High Potential Coordinator and English teacher, Bristnall Hall Academy, describes the impact for her of the year’s programme
This academic year I was selected to be part of the first cohort of the SSAT Leadership Legacy Programme. This new, and exciting, scheme was presented to me by the school principal and I immediately knew it would be a fantastic opportunity at an early stage in my career.
Why did I choose to take part in the project?
After hearing about what was involved, I knew that I would benefit greatly from this scheme. The outline, launch event and my regional manager in the Academy Transformation Trust explained that the success I achieved on the programme would be down to my own level of participation. I took this as an opportunity to explore what I would like to achieve at the end of the programme and examined the proposed programme closely.
The project appeared to be very varied; but this was always beneficial. It meant I had to decide what would work for me, what wouldn’t and what would allow me to develop my own leadership skills. The main selling point of the programme for me was this flexibility and variety. As I was only one year past my NQT year at the time of selection and new to my whole-school role, I had many areas for development in leadership. This programme gave me opportunities to meet experts, learn from other schools and find a project focus that could suit my school and setting.
What are the benefits and impact of taking part?
The programme has a multitude of benefits; it would be impossible to name them all. I will focus on the ones that had the greatest impact on me, in particular as a leader. Firstly, we were given a variety of leaders to speak to, question and use as influences for our own leadership style. These speakers did not always work in education, which gave me the opportunity to explore new realms of leadership. My Leadership Expert was Dame Susan Jowett, chief executive of the Spencer Academies Trust, and her sessions proved engaging and intriguing. The other fellows were also great sources of leadership examples and great to share issues with. As a cohort we met a few times, and everyone had the opportunity to learn about different settings and meet new contacts. I am sure these will be useful to us all long after the programme has ended.
As a cohort we met a few times, and everyone had the opportunity to learn about different settings and meet new contacts. I am sure these will be useful to us all long after the programme has ended
Part of this networking was attending the SSAT National Conference: something I had never expected to be part of at this stage in my career! The speakers were motivational and I gained a lot from the experience. These benefits included ideas for school, contacts for the future and advice from other leaders that helped to shape some of my own goals and ‘think piece’ aims. The conference was most definitely a highlight of the programme.
Shadowing another school’s leadership team
Finally, we had what I believe to be the most influential experience of the programme, and one that I hope and expect will greatly affect my leadership skills. We had three days shadowing the leadership team in another school. Leaders at my school were very encouraging of this opportunity and wanted me to get the most out of the experience. My placement school was welcoming and informative. I learnt a lot from seeing what day-to-day school life is like for SLT. The main benefit of this not being at my school was being exposed to a range of excellent leaders in a different school setting, and then I was able to see what other high performing school leaders do consistently well. I cannot recommend this enough.
Suggestions for future participants
I would definitely suggest that you think about your ‘think piece’ topic early on. The earlier you do this, the more impact you can have in your school. You will be able to shape your vision using all the sessions as you experience them, rather than doing it all at the last minute. I would also suggest that you set some time aside to read the SSAT Sunday Supplement. There can be many influential articles in here, and they often give you ideas for your own school. Finally, ensure that you take part in all the core activities fully. You need to turn up to each event ready to learn something new; they all give you so much and you don’t want to miss anything!
To finish, I want to say good luck to the next cohort. You are in for a fantastic experience.
SSAT are passionate about a school-led system that helps drive social mobility, and we hope that this opportunity will help accelerate development of the broad range of skills these bright, motivated and passionate individuals will need as they progress in their careers.
If you have any queries about the SSAT Leadership Legacy Project, or would like to express an interest in the next cohort please contact your relationship manager. The nomination process for 2018/19 will be open in the Autumn term.
Read on the SSAT blog: Developing aspiration among students with high potential
Holly Henderson, Bristnall Hall Academy