DNA of a fixer head

What drives school leaders who take on and transform our most challenging schools? Helen Amass discovers that the attributes that draw them in and facilitate rapid success could potentially undermine their work in the long term

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Chris Brislen remembers the exact date he arrived at John Baskeyfield VC CofE Primary School in Stoke-on-Trent for two reasons. First, because it was his birthday. Second, because, right after the assembly in which he introduced himself as the school’s new headteacher, Ofsted phoned.

It was 20 May 2013. The inspectors wanted to come in the very next day.

“We failed with spectacular style,” Brislen says. “I remember standing in the car park with my colleague Sean Thomson and I asked him if he thought that committing career suicide was legal.”

The school was already in special measures, so ...

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