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MAT chief urges private heads to become state school governors

Dame Rachel de Souza urges independent heads to share their experience

Rachel de Souza, private schools, state schools, governors, HMC, Headmasters' and Headmistresses' conference

Dame Rachel de Souza urges independent heads to share their experience

The head of an academy chain has urged private school headteachers to become governors at state schools to help improve their education.

Dame Rachel de Souza has urged members of the Headmasters and Headmistresses’ conference to share their time and experience.

The chief executive of Inspiration Trust spoke to heads at the HMC conference today about transforming schools.

She revealed that having school governors from top independent sector backgrounds had helped to support her in one of her first headships.

“My governors were Etonians, they were Harrovians and they brought to bear all of the things they knew.

“We learnt from your sector. That school made good improvements in the numbers but we also got further. We started to work on the things that mattered mainly because of my governors.  They were asking: ‘What are we teaching these children? What about their character.’

“They were asking the right questions.  That is where I would say to you: You can play an incredibly powerful body on a state school body or board – asking the hard questions about education that you can ask.”

Ms de Souza also urged heads to work closely with state schools.

She said she wanted bright young teachers to experience how independent schools operated.

She founded Inspiration Trust in 2012 which now operates 14 schools in Norfolk and Suffolk and was made a Dame for services to education in 2014.

Earlier today in a teacher and learner panel discussion she told HMC heads that state schools could learn from the independent sector.

She said: “I run schools, you run schools they are in very different contexts but we do the same thing. I think we have lots of common. 

"I wanted to tell you about my quest to improve teaching and learning and to improve my schools and the strange thing is I have travelled the whole world and the answer could just have been sitting in front of me.

“I have 14 schools, four of them free schools, the rest of them were failing schools, they joined me in special measures with some of the worst results in the country in some of the most deprived areas in the country.

“We had a high accountability system and has a very short time to get them right and we did. In our first three years, our schools got great results. How did we do it? In the first three years, we created calm where there was chaos. We used the management skills that you use. 

“We created order, good behaviour, started to improve teaching and learning.”

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