Southampton continues to look for leaders with passion, energy and inspiration, who can deliver the very best for children and young people. Whether you aspire to be one of our outstanding teachers, or to join our schools in another capacity, your contribution to raising teaching standards across the board will be recognised, nurtured and developed.
As we transform leadership across the city, we are seeing the development of alternative forms of school leadership emerging in a number of schools, for example co-headships and various forms of distributed leadership. Clusters of schools are working in ever closer partnership, as we see the emergence of a number of collaborations.
"To me, being a leader means getting the best out of people to change other people’s lives. I find it really satisfying to recognise the quality in someone and develop them so they can accomplish more. Six years ago, I took over headship at a failing school in a historically deprived area. The teachers were really struggling but I worked with a local leader to identify who we would develop, and many of those same teachers are now accredited Advanced Skills Tutors.
"The biggest challenge when I took over my school was to understand the needs of the pupils and local community without making assumptions about them. They believed in the school even when it was failing. To this day I instil the same learning ethic with the parents and children: good behaviour, respect and hard work. If a parent tells me that their child excels in a certain area I simply ask them 'Don’t you want that to be recognised?'.
"I passionately believe that education makes the difference - not money, power or politics. If you give children the tools to make decisions for themselves, they can use that to change their lives. The local community needs to back the school’s ethos and as a leader it’s my job to ensure that is the case.
"It takes a long time to build up the standards in a whole school but fortunately there is a really proactive feeling in the city’s teaching community. The authority’s education staff have incredible knowledge, so they are quick to recognise leadership talent, promote leadership development opportunities and support schools to promote their teachers. The close school cluster group working and the teaching schools’ alliance provide a further platform for new ideas to be moved forward at a corporate level. All of this contributed to turning my school around to achieve an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating.
"I believe a leader is only limited by their aspirations. When we got the ‘outstanding’ rating I got a momentary feeling of elation but soon started to think about how we could improve further. We reached our goal of becoming an outstanding school in a period when we also made the transition from being a junior school to a primary and a new build. I want people to look at Harefield Primary School and think 'If they can do it then we can'.
"One family recently moved four miles away but promised they would still find a way to get their kids here everyday. Many people typically don’t move out of the community here, but if you build up the children’s self esteem, their parents also build up the view that things can change for them too.
"We are now a national support school but I still ask teachers to report back on two things that inspired them on their visits to other schools, so we can consider implementing them. We owe this to the pupils whose future is at stake.
"The local leader’s support when I started at Harefield gave me the affirmation I needed that I was doing the right thing, and inspired me to become a national leader myself. I now work with other leaders and am confident I will help them make a difference because I did it at my own school.
"I have had many chances to move away but have always stayed. Southampton has many leadership opportunities and there will always be a new challenge to rise to. The support network in place is constantly evolving – this gives you the chance to achieve things which may not otherwise be possible."