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South West schools 'will improve with more great leaders'

Local academy chief Rebecca Clark says that schools need to train more great leaders

Posted by Hannah Vickers | January 24, 2017 | People, policy, politics

At an event to discuss social mobility in the South West this morning (Tuesday, 24th January), hosted by education charity Ambition School Leadership, Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West Rebecca Clark said local schools should train more great leaders, such as heads of department or subject, deputy heads and headteachers, to ensure children get the education that will prepare them for later life.

Last year, the government classified each local authority according to the support their schools need to improve. In the South West, areas most in need of support include Dorset, Devon and West Somerset, which is also an Opportunity Area targeted with millions of pounds of government funding.

While many schools in the South West provide a good standard of education, statistics show more work is needed. In 2014/15 in the South West, 38.7% of children eligible for free school meals, a sign of economic disadvantage, failed to achieve five A-E grades at GCSE (including English and maths), compared to only 13.6% of children from wealthier families.

Evidence shows that developing effective leaders is a key way to improve schools. Ambition School Leadership, a leadership development charity, is prioritising schools in specific parts of the South West to help staff develop the skills that will enable them improve their primary or secondary schools. The charity is offering a range of subsidies for schools that will benefit most from support.

I believe passionately that every child in the South West is entitled to an excellent education - Rebecca Clark, Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West

“I believe passionately that every child in the South West is entitled to an excellent education. Having the right training in place to ensure that our school middle and senior leaders are consistently excellent is vital to achieving this aim. Ambition School Leadership is doing ground-breaking work in this field, and I am delighted that they will now be working in the South West to make sure that every school in the region has truly outstanding leaders,” said Rebecca.

People who are part of Ambition School Leadership’s programmes are already making a difference to schools in the South West. As part of the Future Leaders programme Ally Eynon, Assistant Principal at Oasis Academy Brightstowe in Bristol, worked on improving the quality of careers education. After one year, the school earned Employability Chartermark status and two years later the school has a network of business support, and the number of children not in education, employment or training (NEET) has fallen sharply.

Ambition School Leadership CEO James Toop said:

'We are focusing on areas that until now have not received the same investment in leadership as larger cities, such as London. The South West deserves great schools but at the moment too many children leave school without the education they need to get a good job or continue studying. To help change this we are prioritising local schools that could use more support and any head looking to develop their staff should get in touch.”

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