Interview - Ian Cleland

The academy sponsor chief says, `If the time isn't right, walk away'

Tes Editorial

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

"Always operate at the right time; if the time is not right turn around and walk away."

Who has been your biggest influence?

I have learnt so much from the teachers I have worked with and observed over my career. It is a privilege to work alongside teachers because you gain so much from them.

Which pupil are you most proud of?

I am proud of all the children I have worked with. I have worked in the West Midlands for my whole teaching career so I have had the pleasure of seeing many of them continue to grow. I still see them: one fitted my last kitchen, others you meet in the teaching profession. I feel proud of them all and that I have been able to play some small part in their development.

What is your career high so far?

My present job is my career high. As chief executive, I am able to drive forward what I believe in and recruit staff who share that vision.

What would you be if you hadn't become a teacher?

Something in banking - I believe that in order to be successful you have to take calculated risks.

What car do you drive?

I have driven Jags for quite a long time. I drive an awful lot of miles in my job, and you need a car which is comfortable and economical.

Where did you last go on holiday - and why?

It was a cruise with my wife to celebrate our joint birthdays; we toured the Adriatic and the Aegean from Venice. It allowed me to see some amazing parts of the world: Olympia, the Acropolis and Ephesus, which I had never visited before.

What was the last book you read?

A book by Bernard Cornwell called The Fort, about the war of independence in the United States.

What is the worst excuse you have ever heard?

It was from a headteacher whose school had just gone into special measures. When asked what had gone wrong his only explanation was: "I took my eye off the ball."

Ian Cleland spent his career working in secondary schools in the West Midlands before becoming chief executive of Ormiston Academies Trust, one of the largest academy sponsors in the UK.

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