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Phil Smith, Norfolk House School

My experience of the Emerging Leaders Programme 

My name is Phil Smith, and I teach in Year 2 at Norfolk House School in Muswell Hill. This academic year, I have been very fortunate to have been invited to participate in the Bellevue Group’s new ‘Emerging Leaders’ course; a bringing-together of colleagues from across the group to network, share practice and ideas, and consider the concept of leadership in school contexts. It’s been an excellent opportunity to meet people from across the group – staff from Bellevue HQ, fellow teachers, middle leaders, headteachers and directors - and consider issues that schools and their leaders face every day. Combining practical workshops lead by leaders from across the group with inter-session tasks to consider educational theory and promote reflection and innovation in our own contexts, the course is helping me to develop my teaching practice as well as my understanding and awareness of leadership in schools.

Our first day took us to Bellevue HQ in Hampton Court. Mark Malley, CEO and founder of the Bellevue Group, first took us through a thought-provoking, data-led conversation on the traits and impact of effective, innovative leadership in organisations. This session had a profound impact on me as he related this data and theory to his own leadership of Norfolk House School which, under his headship, went from a failing school to the highly successful and rapidly-expanding schooI I now work in. Steve Wade, Director of Education, then facilitated a discussion around a 360-feedback activity we had undertaken, getting us to reflect upon areas of strength and those for development as identified by our colleagues. Our inter-session task to review a text on educational practice and classroom leadership, the book ‘Teaching Backwards’ by Andy Griffith, was a great opportunity to read and evaluate an exceptional book full of practical ideas with which to develop my classroom leadership and practice.

The second 2-day meet, in the middle of the Autumn term, took us to Norfolk House to consider real, current issues in educational contexts. Topics included whole-school data analysis and the identification of areas for development within a school, and the design, monitoring and evaluation of consequent systems to address them. Facilitated to be practical and highly relatable to our current contexts, my peers and I discussed how useful and relevant the sessions had been.

I am now in the middle of the second inter-session task, requiring us to identify an area for our own development, film ourselves teaching, and seek feedback from a colleague in the form of coaching. I have chosen mathematics as my focus, in particular how to make learning practical, relatable and concrete for lower attaining pupils. With the help of our Head of Maths, Rob Ashton, I look forward to the process and reading educational literature to justify practice with underlying theory.

The course has been a great opportunity to meet new people and share ideas and expertise, and also to really consider relatable, current educational issues for leaders in schools and the impact effective leadership can have. I really look forward to the remainder of the course, and the impact it will have on my learners this year and in the future!

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Luke Butterworth

Wandsworth Prep School

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