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The Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust

The Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust was set up in 1961 by the late Ian Fairbairn, a leading City figure who pioneered the unit trust industry. He named it after his wife, who was killed by a bomb at the end of the Second World War. In 1999, it made 1,126 grants to charities to a total value of pound;19.95 million, putting it among the five largest independent charitable trusts in the country.

It awards funds in five areas: arts and heritage, education, environment, social and economic research, and social development. Just over 19 per cent of all grants made in 1998 were for education, as was pound;2.7 million worth of new grants in 1999.

The Heads You Win project was launched in 1999. Last year 12 grants, worth pound;820,000 in total, were approved for projects to enhance the professional development of headteachers in 215 state primary schools. "The thinking is that heads are often the key to sucess in schools," says project co-ordinator Bernie Morgan. "An organisation is as good as its leader.

"We didn't want to tackle it in a blanket way," she says. "We wanted to ask heads and local education authorities what they felt was needed, so that they would devise their own projects. Long-term, we are interested in seeing whether improving headteachers' leadership and management skills has an impact on children's learning."

The projects include schemes to train heads in IT, develop their skills in assessing classroom practice, promote partnerships with parents and enhance the role of the heads in improving teaching and learning. All projects will be evaluated locally, and the scheme as a whole will be assessed by researchers from Warwick University. There will also be a national conference in spring 2001.

For more information contact Bernie Morgan on 020 7227 5400

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