In a sector first, the civil society leaders’ network ACEVO is welcoming to its ranks headteachers and emerging leaders of academy clusters representing more than 50 schools across England and Wales.
London Leadership Strategy (LLS), one of the country’s foremost school-led school improvement bodies, is working with ACEVO on the delivery of the LLS Becoming Multi Academy Trust Leaders programme.
The partnership coincides with concerns raised late last week by the Future Leaders Trust, Teaching Leaders and TeachFirst. Their joint report warned of a future shortage of headteachers. It argued that the profession lacks a culture of development and feedback and leaders do not feel they get enough support or feel motivated to stay in leadership roles. The ACEVO/LLS partnership directly addresses these concerns.
It is clear that the educational landscape has been transformed by the emergence of the autonomous school, the academy and wider reform. Headteachers increasingly need to balance their role as leaders of education with the responsibilities of running a charity.
The role, responsibilities and nature of a school leader have effectively evolved into those of a civil society leader. With its depth of experience and strength in peer support among members ranging from household names to local lynchpins and social enterprise, ACEVO is uniquely placed to complement LLS’s 10 years of expertise in supporting excellence in school leadership.
The skills that headteachers need to exercise – partnership building, business development, advocacy and fundraising - are all part of the third sector chief executive skillset: areas in which ACEVO has been operating for the past 30 years. While many commentators are encouraging school leaders to look to learn from the for-profit sector - which has value - LLS is looking to help leaders learn from other leaders of not-for-profit organisations.
Consequently, ACEVO has teamed up with the London Leadership Strategy to help deliver peer-driven mutual learning between charity leaders and academy heads. They will explore and share experiences and help deliver solutions in areas such as good governance, impact measurement, and how to make partnerships work.
ACEVO has long been the champion of an enterprising and forward thinking third sector and bringing together groups of specialists and volunteers to work in concert to transform public services. LLS is recognised as one of the foremost networks for school leaders. Moving into the realm of education to help LLS to deliver its mission is a natural development for ACEVO. The partnership will deliver the programme over the next year in England and Wales and held its first meeting last week.
ACEVO Interim Chief Executive Asheem Singh said: “We are excited to be launching this pioneering and unique project with London Leadership Strategy. Multi Academy leaders will be, by the nature of their roles, charity chief executives, and ACEVO as the leading network for charity chief executives is best placed to offer support and leadership development to complement the skills of headteachers.
“We also know that schools are at the centre of civil society, so learning from work with leading headteachers will help ACEVO support our charity CEO members working in education and with young people.
“The headteachers on this programme are dedicated to supporting the children and young people in their communities to flourish and reach their goals. We look forward to continuing to work with them to expand this programme in the future.”
London Leadership Strategy Managing Director Anita Kerwin-Nye said: “As a long-term member of ACEVO and charity leader I know the importance of effective peer support. Headteachers moving to Multi Academy Trust leadership face many of the same challenges as charity leaders. LLS headteachers are remarkable leaders of education – successfully running both their own schools and also offering support to their peers. This partnership will provide them with an expanded skillset that will help them balance their clear moral purpose with balancing the books”.
Rob Carpenter, executive head teacher and LLS board member said: “Even as an experienced headteacher and education system leader, the move to running a Multi Academy Trust can be daunting. The practical realities of areas such as developing a trustee board, fundraising, and marketing and communications are all not something that headteachers are trained for in their headteacher qualifications. Working with ACEVO provides us with much welcome input from our colleagues in the charity sector”