We all know a school that consistently delivers great outcomes for all its students. If you were lucky enough, this was your own school. There are hundreds of these schools across the country and they have incomparable impact on students across the country, regardless of their background.
Yet it’s important to remember that high standards and excellent outcomes for students do not happen by chance. They are the product of a collective dedication to excellence that invariably begins with a great Headteacher and senior leadership team. These school leaders have inspired and empowered generations of students, and the system is in desperate need of this learning to be shared more widely.
Recognising this, the Going for Great programme exists to champion the work of outstanding school leaders and spread great practice nationwide. The programme is led by Rachel Macfarlane and Damian McBeath, two LLS Directors and exceptional Headteachers who are passionate about system-wide improvement. At its core, the programme aims to capture outstanding school leadership and share it across the system with the end goal of empowering and supporting all schools. The most powerful demonstration of this is through publishing an annual collection of case studies from each year’s cohort of delegates.
These case studies encapsulate an individual area of excellence feature in each school that takes part in G4G. From pioneering a holistic approach to GCSE art lessons, as demonstrated by Plashet school, to effectively leading and managing a large school expansion at Avenue Primary Academy, each case study illuminates the drive for excellence that underpins the work of the best schools in the country. The finished product is the result of a collaborative effort as case studies are edited and refined throughout the programme by small groups, as well as the design and title being decided on collectively by each cohort.
In November last year, London Leadership Strategy decided to launch the latest collection of case studies, Inspiring Greatness, by hosting a celebration in recognition of exceptional Headteachers and school leaders across the country. Held at the House of Commons and attended by some of the most powerful figures in Education such as the Secretary of State, Rt Hon Justine Greening, and Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb MP, as well as Headteachers and school leaders, the success of the launch was an inspiring testament to the importance of exceptional school leadership.
Anita Kerwin-Nye, CEO of London Leadership Strategy, shared this to attendees on the night:
"The Minister for School Standards asked me what makes the schools in the room world class. I answered as you'd expect. Brilliant pupil progress. Great results. High flying destinations. All true. But the real test of world class is that they are also inclusive and - even in the era of league tables and competition - generous in sharing their resources to benefit all pupils, not just those in their own schools. Every leader in the room is committed to continuing to grow, to learn and to build a better system for all children and young people".
Demonstrated yearly by the Going for Great programme and recognised by the Secretary of State at the Inspiring Greatness launch, the transformative work of Headteachers in London highlights what can be achieved when school leaders work collectively and are committed to sharing their resources outside the boundaries of their own schools. Yet it is imperative that this work and vision is spread nationwide. As Going for Great is offered to schools outside of London for the first time this year, it is our hope that a generation of system-leaders are empowered to build a nationwide education system that is truly world-class and benefits all children and young people.
Louisa Ware is a Programmes Officer at London Leadership Strategy and project manages the Going for Great programme.