When we asked our Twitter followers whom we ought to interview, Jean-Louis Dutaut threw his and Lucy Rycroft-Smith’s hat into the ring. Self-deprecatingly referring to this suggestion as “shameless self-promotion”, it quickly became evident that their project - Flip The System UK - was something our readers should know about.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that teachers are under pressure to produce value-added results, follow an ever-changing curriculum and teach to inspection standards with limited amounts of planning and preparation time. With multiple lessons planned for the week, short-term, mid-term and long-term it is easy to fall into the same pattern of activities: the worksheets, the interactive whiteboard presentation that isn’t always interactive, and the card sort that is creased from its annual usage at the same stage in the trusty scheme of work. And let’s not mention the marking. The 10 mugs of coffee a day is a habit that’s hard to kick.
There has been a wealth of studies examining what shapes the perfect leader. One of the traits of authentic leadership is the consideration of soft as well as hard data, but are decisions based on non-quantitative data possible in the current funding climate? Since Sound Training was established in 2011, we have worked with hundreds of schools with the same goal - to raise literacy levels and achievement across the curriculum. The school leaders and teachers we work with may have lots in common, but one thing that stands out is innovative leadership.
Heading up a team of 20 people you’ve never met before and leading them into a world that you barely understand can teach you a lot about leadership. As we arrived in Kathmandu, ready to continue the training of teachers in Nepal, only a handful of our self-funded volunteers had any experience of teaching. Nobody knew who I was or why I was qualified to be running the show. The volunteers ranged from 17-year-old sixth formers to 60+ year old librarians. We also had well-established teachers, and one headteacher who I had viewed as a heroine and force of nature for quite some time. This was going to be a challenge.
It was from first-hand experience and a gleaming recommendation that initially piqued Jane Cartlidge’s interest in InVentry.
At the third national #WomenEd unconference in Sheffield, Amy Jeetley spoke about how brilliant teachers don’t always make brilliant leaders. I absolutely agree, and would say that although the skills are in some ways related (getting the best from the students you teach/getting the best from the colleagues you lead), leadership demands something specific from us. Working with and through other adults is a challenge of a different nature to being an excellent classroom practitioner. So what is it that DOES make for effective educational leadership at all levels (middle leadership, senior leadership, headship, executive headship), and what are the tools every leader needs to have in their toolkit and draw on?
The REAL David Cameron, as he’s known, is a presenter, trainer, consultant working in all areas throughout education and children's services. Well known and highly-regarded across the UK teaching community (“@realdcameron is amazing!” remarked leading author Jane Hewitt upon learning of this interview), we sat down with David to get his thoughts on the modern education scene.
Since taking on a head of department role four years ago I have had the same flashback every time I sit down at my desk on the first morning back. I was up on the bleak wilds of Dartmoor in October with the daylight fading and rain coming down fast and furious. I wasn’t sure where I was or where I was going. Panic rose in my throat. I was lost.
I wasn’t always going to be a teacher. In 1988, I was at Jesus College, Oxford researching the iconography of landscape in British film. In the late eighties, it was a topic right on the edge of Geography. My thesis supervisor was the razor sharp Professor David Harvey; probably the most famous geographer in the world at that time. But a postcard note in my college pigeonhole changed the direction of my life. A colleague in the School of Geography had obtained a lectureship and asked me to take over his part time teaching job at St Edward's School in Summertown, an Independent School just north of Oxford. I accepted the job. I thought it would be an interesting change from the Upper Reading Rooms and the cramped viewing booths of the British Film Institute, plus a much needed boost to my scholarship stipend.