Trust me, academies will nurture teacher talent

18th March 2016 at 00:00

The education of children has always been at the heart of my work and this has never been more true than in my new post as national schools commissioner.

I was attracted to the role by the opportunity to take what I have done in schools and in multi-academy trust (MAT) leadership and translate it to the larger scale of national government: the ultimate school improvement job.

I have been thinking about the challenge of how to keep my focus on the educational experience of children in the classroom while being located in Whitehall. To do this, I go back to my experience as a music teacher in comprehensive schools in the 1980s. I quickly began to see how being an excellent classroom teacher inspired children to want more from their learning and take up extracurricular activities.

My vision is to create a system where talented teachers are nurtured, and where leaders of schools and MATs have clear and varied career paths to develop their staff. I believe strongly in the importance of keeping excellent teachers in our schools and making teaching an even more attractive career.

Like all graduates, teachers will compare themselves to their peers who have chosen other careers and progress on to new, exciting opportunities. The key is having an education system that is able to commit to its employees and provide these opportunities in order to keep the moral spark alive that inspired them to become teachers in the first place.

I believe that a system with all schools working together in trusts can do this. It can create enriched career options in a variety of schools for teachers who want to develop and share their expertise in the classroom to benefit more children. In a trust, the opportunities exist for staff to move swiftly along their career path and become future leaders who want to progress into management. I’ll explain what I mean using an example from Toby Salt, chief executive of Ormiston Academies Trust.

“A trust allows you to grow and develop talent,” he says. “We have two SCITTs and 28 School Direct places. We have a teaching school supporting our pipeline. We have used Teaching Leaders and Future Leaders but have also identified ‘scouted’ talent across the group and will support the development of aspirant principals. We have a ‘gold standard’, which recognises and shares the best talent in subject teachers and school leadership.”

So when I’m asked how I reconcile my moral purpose to influence the lives of children when I no longer work in a school with the same children and staff every day, my answer is that I believe that my work as commissioner brings me even closer to my end goal of making education better for all children. Great educational leadership has to have the achievement of young people as its DNA. The best leaders know that developing a multi-talented workforce is the means by which we can achieve that.

I want to move that challenge forward and state that a system where all schools are part of an MAT is the route to creating and retaining an outstanding workforce who are highly valued and want to continue their huge contribution to society.

Sir David Carter is national schools commissioner @Carter6D

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