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Blog: Variety is the spice of life – and our Head of Teaching School wouldn’t have it any other way

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Blog by:  Lisa Fathers, Head of Teaching School / Bright Futures Educational Trust Co-Principal

So, I thought I’d write my FIRST ever blog on my role as Head of a Teaching School and Co-Principal across a MAT!

Most teachers I meet react to my title by saying ‘ wow sounds like a great role’ then ten minutes later come back and say ‘what is it you actually do then…’ It’s taken me a while to answer that question fully for two reasons: 1. I’ve been in role one year and in all honestly it takes that long to understand fully what you are doing and 2.The Teaching School, it’s priorities and my role are ever evolving!

I’m not sure where to start… so you probably know that teaching schools are part of a structure to create a school led system of self-improvement. We have work to do under key areas and at my teaching school we theme the work strands as: professional development, ITT, SLE, school-to-school support, leadership development, research & Maths Hub!

I am based at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls and I have a teaching school core team of six staff. I also oversee a team of approx 13 facilitators on various CPD programmes and of course our team of 55 SLEs. We have just over 60 primary, secondary and special schools working with us in our alliance and a few colleges too. Our SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) has trainees from early years, primary right through to secondary and we are in our second year! The team at AGGS are absolutely amazing, innovative, hardworking and incredibly supportive, and whilst it is a well-used phrase it’s true that you are ‘only as good as the team around you’. In the last year we’ve created a proper business plan, re organised our membership structure, got a real understanding of school need and put the systems in place to support this. We have also created more structures for collaboration between schools to evolve naturally.  It’s been a wonderful year, challenging at times but I feel I’m in a role that’s truly matched to my skill set which is a great place to be! I love working closely with Headteachers in our TSA on a range of projects and I like coming up with creative solutions to issues. One of our major projects this year has been to come up with solutions to help our schools improve wellbeing and mental health (take a look at our website https://bfetaflcopy.concept4preview.com )

So now I come to the other part of my role working as Co-Principal across our MAT Bright Futures Educational Trust. The two roles are not separate and clearly blend together as the Teaching School services the MAT. This role is all about working closely with principals/ vice-principals and our secondary and primary directors to ensure our schools have what they need in terms of support and school improvement. My role is also about firming up collaboration and school to school support across the trust.  I’ve worked closely this year with our directors to implement school to school peer reviews, I’ve overseen teams of SLEs in some of our schools and I’ve given direct support myself to some schools on various areas. In terms of our Blackpool schools, I represent our trust on the Blackpool School Improvement Board. My team have come up with creative CPD solutions for our schools too and created bespoke packages.  Because of my overview of the trust and my expertise, I’m also involved in marketing across the trust. I manage the trust’s strategic partnership with the Youth Sport Trust; Bright Futures Educational Trust really does have wellbeing and health high on the agenda but I guess that’s another blog! I’m the first port of call for schools if they need something and if I can’t deliver it I try my best to find someone who can! I see myself as the ‘go to’ person for ‘stuff’!  I’m conscious not to go on too long!

So, in short, no week or day is the same and I can be working on something really strategic one day in London and then the next I can have my sleeves rolled up and be doing something very operational! I don’t get into the classroom much these days except to observe trainees and I do miss that feeling of shutting the door and knowing it’s just you and the students, but I get an awful lot of satisfaction from having a wider impact. I can’t think of anything I don’t like about my job, except for traffic at times when I’m out and about, oh and the occasional financial return that makes my head hurt a bit……….. English teachers don’t like rows of figures in spreadsheets!!

I have no idea if any of the above is of interest to anyone but I quite enjoyed writing it!

Other potential blogs in my head are:

– why I love being a mixed race teacher

– I’m an English and Drama teacher but PE is my favourite subject and I think schools should do more of it!

– why I think coaching is transformational

– my role as Headteacher Ambassador for the Youth Sport Trust

– the juggle (young kids at home and a high pressure job!)

– mental health in schools

To read more blogs please visit our dedicated blog site:   www.allianceforlearning.wordpress.com

Alliance for Learning
Cavendish Road, Bowdon
Altrincham WA14 2NL
Proud to part of the Bright Futures Education Trust