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Praise for partnership

Phil Steele is one of Birmingham's newest heads. She started at St Edmund Campion RC school in Edgbaston, Birmingham, earlier this year.

Mrs Steele says that the role is less daunting because the Birmingham Catholic Secondary Partnership, which links nine RC secondaries, gives tremendous help to heads. From September, there will be no vacant headships in the city's nine Catholic secondaries.

"The partnership encourages people to come forward as school leaders because they know they will be supported," Mrs Steele said.

Secondary school leaders benefit from three residential weekends a year run by the partnership. Informal networks develop which give potential heads the chance to get to know other local Catholic schools before they actually apply for a headship.

"I already had a feeling for my current school before I applied for the job," said Mrs Steele.

As a deputy head from Cardinal Wiseman school, Birmingham, she had met deputies from St Edmund Campion at partnership gatherings. Contacts like these reinforce the shared faith and vision of Catholic school leaders.

"We shouldn't be shy about promoting headship as a vocation and a service to the community, and to tell young teachers that they can do it," insisted Margaret Buck, deputy director of schools at Birmingham archdiocese.

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