REVIEW: Growing Future Leaders

At the beginning of the year, @traceyjanesmith, ushered me into her office. I had only been at the school for two weeks and she encouraged me to apply for the Growing Future Leaders course. Having completed the course, I wanted to write about how it has helped me on my leadership journey. It is possible to apply for next year’s course (for those of you in Oxfordshire) and all the information can be found at

John West-Burnham

John was the driving force behind the course. You can view his website through . His style was different to the norm. He gently led us on a road of discovery- facilitating discussions and provoking us with current issues. John made it clear that the gap is widening. The government might’ve thrown lots of money at schools (Pupil Premium) to fix the problem – but there is no easy fix! It is complicated- no single intervention programme will fix it. However, dealing with the deeper problems, not just the surface-level problems in your school, which affect pupils, their families and communities will have a bigger impact. He argued that how a child learns is down to (a) genetic factors (b) social factors (c) school factors. Looking at these were hugely beneficial, but you’d have to join the course to understand why.


Schools are rapidly changing. I believe that we are part of something big in this nation. Although the government are constantly changing things, the schools have started to do something in a much bigger scale. Collaboration is more than talking to colleagues in your school. The internet has brought along social networking sites such as twitter and facebook. Teachmeets are happening all around the country. However, more exciting than this, are the dialogues that happen between professionals in a range of settings. One of these settings was through our sessions. We learnt about how different schools were coping with problems and idealistically dreamed about a brighter future. However, we did it together which meant that somehow it seemed like it could one day happen.


School pace is fast. You wave goodbye to your pupils and then your day begins: marking, meetings, paperwork…the list goes on. Having an opportunity to stop was really important for me. It allowed times for self-reflection on my own practice and has helped me prioritise effectively. Our sessions on resilience and well-being were particularly helpful with this. I left with the feeling that I want to change hundreds of lives through leadership but also learnt the importance of stopping, in a way that I hadn’t learnt before.

Individual Project

Similar to other CPDs, there was a project to carry out. I chose to implement iPads in my school and see if it had any impact (next post). Other people looked at reading for pleasure or forest school. As a result, I’ve began sharing what I’ve learnt with others. The project was something that the school needed me to look into and is something that has/will have an impact. I am eager to see what next year has for us.


The course was brilliantly led and Adam Arnell, Director of OTSA, is doing something innovative and ground-breaking with it. I would highly recommend it to others and know that I’ve met people who I will be meeting with in the future for advice and brand new collaborative projects!


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