Securing the best teaching and leadership talent for Southwark – next steps

In November, Southwark Teaching School Alliance hosted an event for headteachers examining the challenges around recruitment and retention and opportunities to work together to address them. While there are few quick fixes, there were several actions identified that will help build a sustainable pipeline of teachers and leaders for our schools.

In a follow-up conversation with Southwark Council we agreed the following next steps and opportunities for you to get involved:

  • Southwark Council is developing a Southwark recruitment portal on its website which will:
    • Sell the benefits of living and working in Southwark, including cycle scheme, rent deposit scheme, leisure and cultural opportunities etc.
    • Advice and support for prospective applicants – e.g. how to create a strong CV
    • Potentially offer the facility for Southwark schools to post vacancy and secondment opportunities
  • The Council would like schools’ input as the portal is developed and anyone interested in contributing should contact Cara Cahill.
  • Southwark Council will continue to promote teaching in Southwark at HEI recruitment fairs, with the opportunity for schools to send along promotional materials, information about vacancies and representatives.
  • Southwark Council is continuing to talk to members about making more affordable housing available for teachers. Schools could reinforce this message by lobbying their local councillors.
  • Southwark Teaching School Alliance will continue to offer Schools Direct as a route into teaching in Southwark. The more schools that get involved with this work, the more training places we will be able to secure and the better the supply of Southwark-grown teachers, so schools are urged to consider joining one of our two Schools Direct partnerships led by John Donne (salaried scheme) and Crampton (non-salaried scheme).
  • Southwark Teaching School Alliance will also explore what more it can do to support career progression within the borough to support retention, including by giving middle and senior leaders the chance to be recognised as Specialist Leaders of Education and by working with HEI partners to offer a Southwark Masters qualification.
  • Southwark Council is exploring the possibility of hosting a big recruitment event, hosted in one of Southwark’s iconic spaces, in autumn 2017 to sell teaching in Southwark. The Council would like school input into the shape of this event and to the event itself. Southwark Teaching School Alliance will contribute to both.

A look back at autumn term 2016

With Christmas a mere five days away and the cold starting to bite, it’s hard to believe we were having a late summer heatwave on those first few days of term in September. A lot has happened since then – both in Southwark and the world outside – and, as is traditional at this time of year, I thought it worth a quick look back on the autumn term that was.


Since taking up post in September, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting primary, secondary and special schools across the borough and beyond (as indicated by the stars on the map). I am very grateful to the headteachers who have welcomed me and shared the many exciting things going on in their schools. An important task in the months ahead is to ensure we become more effective in identifying, signposting and spreading excellent practice wherever it is found, so that it impacts on as many learners as possible. If there’s something good going on in your school you’d like to share, please get in touch.

Other highlights of the term include:

Initial Teacher Training

  • Our Schools Direct partnership, led by John Donne, doing better than the national average (of 30,000 places awarded from 65,000 bid) to secure 18 of the 25 places they requested for trainees this year

Continuing Professional Development and Leadership Development

  • Launch of a new Middle Leaders’ Programme, being offered in partnership with UCL/IOE
  • Holding the first two of seven sessions in our second cycle of Leading Impact – NPQSL, run in partnership with Ambition School Leadership (formerly The Future Leaders Trust)
  • Securing money from the NCTL Leadership Equality and Diversity Fund to launch two programmes for female leaders; one for serving heads and executive heads exploring Headship Beyond One School, and the other for Senior Leaders contemplating their next steps towards headship
  • Shorter courses led by our Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE) on fabulous phonics, spelling in the new curriculum and pupil wellbeing, among others

School-to-school support

  • SLEs using their expertise to provide bespoke support to schools in Southwark, Smethwick and Uganda in topics ranging from phonics to SEND to school business management
  • Ongoing success of our pilot peer review cluster, with a second round of visits prompting detailed scrutiny, deep thinking and development of improvement plans in areas identified by hosting headteachers
  • Working with Mime and Southwark Council to give all Southwark primary schools access to data about how their pupils do at secondary school
  • Our first headteacher hot topic session, considering collective approaches to recruitment and retention, with key proposals being taken forward by Southwark Council

Research and development

  • Being one of only 11 schools/TSAs accepted (from 158 who bid) for funding as part of the workload challenge. The money will support a project involving 8 schools to examine the impact on pupil outcomes and teacher workload of dropping written marking in favour of verbal feedback
  • Continuation of the Connecting Knowledge Project with UCL/IOE and nine schools in Lambeth and Southwark – using Lesson Study to explore strategies to raise attainment in writing for disadvantaged children

Huge thanks to all the schools in our alliance who have contributed to such a successful autumn term. I look forward to working with you to widen and deepen our partnership and impact on pupil outcomes in 2017.

Development opportunities for heads and senior leaders

We are delighted this week to launch three great leadership development opportunities for headteachers and senior leaders. Although they are aimed at women, please also read on if you’re a man – because it’s possible you’ll have a female colleague who could benefit and would really appreciate a “tap on the shoulder” from you.

The opportunities are:

  • Headship Beyond One School – aimed at serving female heads who are, or would like to, lead beyond one school – as an executive head, a MAT CEO or by supporting other schools in some other way
  • Senior Leadership Development for Women – aimed at female senior leaders who could be ready to step up into either deputy headship or headship
  • Seizing opportunities: Leading women to headship and beyond – a one-day summit hosted by the Leading Women’s Alliance

Read on for more details and to sign up…

Headship Beyond One School

Fully funded from the NCTL Leadership Equality and Diversity Fund, this pilot programme will:

  • Explore the range of opportunities available to women looking to lead beyond one school – whether through supporting other schools, executive headship, MAT leadership or other forms of system leadership – and how to fulfil them in a way that is true to yourself and your leadership style
  • Provide insights and inspiration from executive leaders in the education sector and beyond, including shadowing opportunities
  • Focus on the key skills and attributes needed to succeed
  • Create a powerful network of like-minded female leaders
  • Aid your succession planning by providing parallel development for future female heads within your school, federation or MAT

You will also have the option to:

  • Coach and/or mentor aspiring female headteachers, with funded coaching training available
  • Work with others to develop and trial family-friendly policies and practices within your school, federation or MAT

In return for over £1000-worth of CPD per person, we ask that you:

  • Commit to attending around six sessions between January and June 2017 – mostly breakfast seminars or twilights
  • Help shape the programme to best meet your needs and for roll-out to subsequent cohorts
  • “Bring someone with you” by identifying one or more female leaders within your school to participate in our parallel female leadership development programme
  • Pay an upfront “commitment fee” of £250 per school or £400 per MAT to be returned at the end of the programme providing the above requirements are met

For more information or to sign up please contact Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Senior Leadership Development for Women

Fully funded from the NCTL Leadership Equality and Diversity Fund, this pilot programme will:

  • Sharpen your leadership skills, with sessions tailored to your needs
  • Offer insights and inspiration from female headteachers, including shadowing opportunities
  • Provide mentoring and coaching from successful female leaders
  • Prepare you for application and interview success
  • Create a powerful network of like-minded female leaders

You will also have the opportunity to take part in optional activities to explore how the joys and challenges of balancing senior leadership and motherhood can be made more manageable.

In return for over £1000-worth of CPD, we ask that you:

  • Commit to attending around six sessions between January and June 2017 – mostly breakfast seminars or twilights
  • Help shape the programme to best meet your needs and for roll-out to subsequent cohorts
  • Pay an upfront “commitment fee” of £250 to be returned at the end of the programme providing the above requirements are met (this fee will be waived if your headteacher is taking part in the Headship Beyond One School programme)

For more information or to sign up please contact Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Seizing opportunities – Leading women to headship and beyond

Southwark Teaching School Alliance is one of a number of organisations proud to support the Leading Women’s Alliance, which seeks to encourage and empower more women to take up headship and executive leadership positions.

The Leading Women’s Alliance’s second summit on 20 January 2017 will feature renown speakers on women’s leadership – including Sian Carr, ASCL President – and aims to:

  1. Equip and inspire women to seize opportunities presented by the changing leadership landscape
  2. Explore values-led leadership – essential in influencing our local communities at this time
  3. Review the Leading Women to Headship Strategic Plan, including The Pledge, and to commit to action

A full programme for the day is available here and you can sign up on Eventbrite. There is an early-bird discount price for people signing up before the end of November.

Recruiting and retaining great teaching and leadership talent in Southwark

recruitment-and-retention-pictureOn 8 November a group of headteachers came together to consider how to meet the challenges we face around the recruitment and retention of great teachers and leaders in Southwark. By the end of the morning we had a good grasp of the issues; some ideas to tackle them; and the suggestion of forming a working party to develop the best ideas further.

We started the morning with an overview from Derek Boyle from the Pan-London Strategy Group for ITT who shared figures suggesting that at the time of the last school workforce census, there were only 3 full-time teaching vacancies and 13 posts filled temporarily in the whole of Southwark! Recognising that this presents a far from accurate picture and says nothing of the appointments made simply to have someone in post, regardless of suitability, Derek encouraged us to all fill in these (non-mandatory) fields in the next school workforce census, as it is where the Department for Education and Ministers get their data from. No wonder they keep asking “what crisis?”

What we do know from the Southwark data, presented by Cara Cahill from Southwark Council, is that we are not holding onto all our initial teacher trainees and have particular challenges in retaining teachers and middle leaders who are 3-7 years qualified. Some of this is explained by the absence of affordable housing for teachers reaching the stage in life where they want a decent family home and we need to keep the pressure on our councillors and the GLA to address this pan-London issue, as well as thinking creatively about what we can do ourselves.

Simon Wattam, co-head at John Donne Primary School and Schools Direct partnership lead, revealed that the partnership was only awarded 18 of the 25 places requested for this year’s recruitment – though this represents a higher success rate than the national picture of 30,000 places awarded against 65,000 requested. Getting more (all) Southwark schools involved in the partnership would be a good way of securing a bigger supply of teacher trainees for the borough.

On retention, Cassie Buchanan, headteacher at Charles Dickens Primary School, explained how she uses flexible working as one way to keep good teachers and middle leaders. Tim Mills, headteacher at Angel Oak Academy, shared the benefits of offering fully-funded MAs (plus study leave and the chance to leave early on MA days) in attracting and retaining a certain type of teacher to his school.

By the end of the morning, we had distilled from our speakers and discussions a set of “ideas with legs” to explore further with a wider group of heads, including:

  • Development of a collective approach (and collective “buying” power) on things like recruitment, ITT and a Southwark masters. The aim would be to benefit from having a bigger voice and economies of scale, while celebrating what is special and unique about each Southwark school.
  • A single portal for anyone looking to teach in Southwark to make it easier for them to navigate the confusing plethora of routes in, and to sell the many positives of a career in teaching (without hiding the realities around the need for hard work and resilience to realise these).
  • Tackling non-schools-based issues, like housing, and looking at the “offer” for Southwark teachers and leaders drawing on the many resources and opportunities across the borough (e.g. discounted gym membership, access to cultural institutions etc.).

In the coming weeks, Southwark Teaching School Alliance and the Council will be considering the best way to work with a wider group of Southwark heads – including existing headteacher groups – to develop these ideas further. If you’d like to find out more or get involved, please email

So what is Southwark Teaching School Alliance anyway?

After a whirlwind seven weeks as the new Director of Southwark Teaching School Alliance (STSA), half term offers a moment to pause and reflect. The questions at the forefront of my mind were posed recently by a new-to-Southwark headteacher who asked what STSA is and where it fits in the wider Southwark landscape. The answers are beginning to take shape.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) defines teaching schools as:

“outstanding schools that work with others to provide high-quality training and development to new and experienced school staff. They are part of the government’s plan to give schools a central role in raising standards by developing a self-improving and sustainable school-led system”.

There are two of these at the heart of Southwark Teaching School Alliance: Charles Dickens Primary School and Crampton Primary School.

NCTL goes on to explain how “teaching school alliances are led by a teaching school and include schools that are benefiting from support, as well as strategic partners [which may include other schools, universities, multi-academy trusts, diocese, local authorities and private sector organisations] who lead some aspects of training and development”.

In reality, every teaching school alliance is organised and operates differently. All commit to delivering the “big 3” – initial teacher training (ITT), continuing professional development (CPD), and school-to-school support, with research a strand that runs throughout. But how they do so is a matter for them.

Within STSA, ITT takes the form of a salaried Schools Direct partnership led by John Donne Primary School and a non-salaried scheme based at Crampton Primary School. CPD for teachers, teaching assistants, and business and support staff is led by Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) drawn from seven schools across the borough. Leadership development programmes are provided in partnership with the UCL Institute of Education and The Future Leaders Trust. School-to-school support takes a variety of forms, from structured peer reviews using a model developed by the Education Development Trust, to consultancy from our three National Leaders of Education (NLEs) and 13 SLEs, to termly sessions where headteachers can work together on issues of common interest (our next being on recruitment and retention). Over time we expect all strands to be underpinned by and/or contribute to research into what drives the most effective practice.

What we do at STSA provides only part of the answer to the question of what STSA is; the other parts come from understanding why and how we do what we do. The answer to why lies in our vision of:

“a community where every child and young person is nurtured and challenged to flourish in all aspects of their life – academic, cultural, personal and social”.

It is about development of the whole child, through excellence across the whole curriculum and all aspects of school life. It is about impact on children’s and young people’s life chances.

How we go about doing that is described in our mission, which is:

“To build a strong community of impactful teachers and leaders based on the sharing and development of practitioner excellence and evidence-based practice”.

That sense of “community” and “sharing” in our mission, and “alliance” in our name is crucial; it is about doing with, not doing to. Our strategic leads shape our areas of focus, but they do not have all the answers. STSA will only succeed if it continues to bring together a wide range of schools to develop and improve alongside each other, drawing on expertise that already exists in schools across the borough, and creating new best practice through purposeful collaboration. Ultimately, STSA is whatever those schools who engage in the alliance make it.

The answer to where STSA fits within the wider Southwark landscape is, for now, less clear – largely because that landscape is itself evolving. In the short-term we are working with the council, as well as schools, to ensure that between us we cater coherently for the needs of Southwark learners, schools and their staff. Beyond that, we look forward to playing our part in shaping the landscape of the future, realising fully our potential to provide a forum for collaboration and action that strengthens and benefits all Southwark schools and the children and young people they serve.

Unleashing expertise in our schools; securing better outcomes for children and young people

We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Dr Kate Chhatwal as Director of Southwark Teaching School Alliance. Here she shares a bit about herself and why she’s excited to be taking up the role in September:


I started my career working in the Department for Education and Skills (as it was then known) on a strategy to improve adult literacy and numeracy. I believed – and still do – that education has the power to transform individuals and societies for the better – not just academically, but personally, socially, creatively and culturally. Having just completed a PhD in education policy, I thought the way to “make a difference” was by thinking great thoughts and writing great strategies at what I imagined was the heart of the education system.

It didn’t take me long to recognise that the real heart of the education system is our classrooms and that teachers, leaders and support staff are the ones who make the real difference. I saw it for myself visiting schools in some of the most deprived communities in England as the senior civil servant responsible for the Labour Government’s flagship National Challenge programme. And research proves it; Eric Hanushek, for example, notes how over the course of a year the best teachers “can get an entire year’s worth of additional learning out of their students compared to those near the bottom [of the quality distribution]”. He and his colleagues also demonstrated the impact of effective headteachers, which is less than the impact of the best teachers, but with benefits for more children.

I am delighted to be taking up post in September as Director of Southwark Teaching School Alliance because I will be working closely with the practitioners who are making the real difference.

For the last three years, I have overseen the design and delivery of senior leadership development programmes at The Future Leaders Trust (TFLT). As Chief Programme Officer, I have been privileged to visit scores of schools and work with hundreds of school leaders, from aspiring assistant heads to multi-academy trust CEOs. They – and my eight years’ experience as a governor and multi-academy trust trustee – have taught me a lot about what makes schools successful and the challenges they face. They also taught me how teachers and leaders can and do develop the knowledge, skills and attributes critical to their success.

A core design principle of TFLT’s programmes is that they should provide opportunities for participants to share experience and skills. This is because the deepest adult learning is achieved by teaching others. But that principle also respects the deep professionalism and reflectiveness of teachers and leaders. It is enshrined in teaching schools whose very being is predicated on the assumption that school-based practitioners are capable of generating and sharing the expertise that will enable all schools to improve. Research and evidence are important, but are no longer the sole preserve of academics.

In my role at STSA I am looking forward to working with and drawing on the unique strengths and varied expertise of schools and partners across the borough to achieve better outcomes for Southwark children and young people. I also want to ensure that the evidence and expertise we develop is shared with schools across the country, at the same time ensuring we have access to the very best practice from elsewhere.

The government’s commitment to the school-led system and the role of teaching school alliances within it provide an opportunity for every professional to contribute to system leadership. Let’s seize the opportunity we have to shape the system around us for the benefit of children and young people in Southwark and beyond.

STSA – End of year celebration!!

13th JuneThank you to everyone who attended our End of Year Celebration!  It was a fantastic evening and it was wonderful to see so many of you there!  During the evening, schools had the opportunity to learn about the different projects that we are running next year and a chance to discuss ideas with other headteachers including our NLEs and SLEs.  We also all had the opportunity to listen to and discuss ideas with Russell Hobby (General Secretary NAHT)  who shared his views on the current educational climate.  The evening was hosted by PWC who provided the refreshments for the evening.  We shared the many successes of STSA in its first year including the following highlights from 2015/2016:

33 – schools engaged with us

20 – CPD opportunities

39 – School Direct students trained

20 – teachers set to achieve NPQSL

6 – schools took part in a lesson study project

4 – schools engaged in peer review

13 – Specialist Leaders of Education recruited, trained and now supporting in schools.


Supporting Parental Engagement

At STSA we are always looking at ways to support schools in involving parental engagement.  We are now beginning to create a network of practitioners who are involved in working with parents and we are beginning to meet regularly meet to share good practice.  If you are interested in joining this group, please email  Below is an account of a current research based parental engagement project which looked at the benefits of family learning.


Learning Together – at Charles Dickens Primary School!


Since January 2016, we have been running the Learning Together programme.  This is an exciting and effective programme to support both pupils and parents in learning together.  The aim of the programme is to provide learning opportunities for both the parent and the pupil to be involved in.  Parents have welcomed the opportunity to have time to spend 1:1 time with their child and to learn about strategies that can improve children’s learning.  The children have also really enjoyed the sessions and have enjoyed sharing their learning with their parents.


Here are some examples of sessions that we ran. For our first session we all worked together to create some origami masterpieces.  We had lots of fun creating dogs, cats and even penguins!  The children really enjoyed themselves and learnt a lot about following origami instructions.  It was a challenge as they had to fold the paper carefully and use their reading skills to follow the instructions.   Other creative workshops have included decorating mugs, decorating plates and making baskets.


To develop ICT skills Mr Bakas ran a session on the best Apps for Ipads and the children and parents worked together to create animations.  We also spent a number of sessions concentrating on puzzles by creating our own jigsaws and wordsearches.


We have also spent a lot of sessions working on cooking skills and many of the parents have led these sessions.  We have made pancakes, banana fritters, fruit salad, coconut ice and papaya and avocado smoothies.  Cooking is a wonderful way for parents to support children’s learning as it involves many skills.  For example, children need to be able to read and write recipes and measure out ingredients.




1 day NLP course for teachers

Over the last 10 years the skills, tools and techniques from NLP have been increasingly useful for teachers in the classroom and with parents and colleagues. NLP can have a real impact on learning to learn and teaching, enabling teachers to become more reflective and skilful leaders of learning’.

Techniques taught in the Evolution NLP for Teachers’ Workshops are highly effective in supporting teachers with an understanding of how the brain works, and how learning happens best. NLP is helpful in a range of leadership activities, as well as in managing and supporting pupils directly. The skills are extremely useful in self management and helping develop a wealth of positive resources to support delivery at a high level.
NLP Development

NLP was developed using scientific methodology and is delivered by the Evolution Trainers in an open and approachable manner. NLP teaches you easy to follow clear methodologies and procedures to ensure that our courses will bring positive change, understanding and personal development.

Some of The Benefits for Teachers from Learning NLP

• Teachers are able to create rapport easily and consistently
• NLP builds resilience in teachers
• NLP supports learning to learn strategies
• Exclusion rates fall rapidly as support staff have more tools and techniques to use

At EVOLUTION TRAINING we have had 17 years of experience in training to individuals and all sizes of organisations, including many schools and colleges, in ‘how to’ techniques that work and let you see how to do things differently.

We work in partnership with schools to deliver the NLP content dovetailed to the schools needed and outcomes. Our key question is ‘What do you want your staff to be able to do that they are not doing now?’

With the help of our training you can develop highly effective teachers and it is easier than you could imagine

NLP for Teachers with Roger Terry


‘Lots of tools and techniques to help me with my teaching and classroom behaviour management ’
Claire – AST
‘The most valuable training I have ever had. It will help me, and it will help me make my team be more effective’
Andrea – Head of Support Staff
‘Through the years, Evolution Training Ltd. has been on time and on budget with their projects for our company. I recommend them without hesitation and will hire them again.’
Richard Churches, – CfBT Education Consultant
NLP for Teachers training day – 7th May at Surrey Square Primary School

o Modelling excellence
o Mind body link
Rapport Skills
o Read the signs
o Rapport Principles and exercises
o Group Rapport and exercises
Communication model
o How the brain processes incoming information
o Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic modes an NLP perspective
o Techniques for engagement
Managing behaviour in the classroom
o Conditioning behaviour
o State control
o Stage anchors

Our courses are comprised of short talks and practical exercises designed with NLP and accelerated learning in mind. To allow you learn and practice the skills so that you can put what you have learned into practice immediately.
Roger Terry CBiol MBS, INLPTA – Director of Training and Development

Roger Terry is a leader in the application of NLP to realise both professional & personal excellence. With twenty years experience and the rare accolade of International NLP Master Trainer, he can truly be referred to as an expert in the science. He has the benefit of both scientific and organisational backgrounds, which are much in evidence in the construction and concise delivery that is the hallmark of all his training. He engenders new strategies and mindsets, provides powerful, thought-provoking practical experiences, which create profound advances in communication skills, self confidence and personal development. His enthusiastic and forthright manner drives the sessions and brings out the very best in his delegates.

Among the books he has written are “NLP for Teachers” (nominated for the Education Resources Award 2008 – Best Primary & Secondary Resource) – now published in at least 8 languages, and his latest publication “The NLP Toolkit “(2010) Roger was deeply involved in research into NLP for teachers. During this ground-breaking project, he designed, ran and collated the results from the NLP for Teachers Fast-track training provided for the DFE by the CfBT international education charity. These results were used by Richard Churches & John West-Burnham in the paper-”Leading learning through relationships: the implications of Neuro Linguistic Programming for personalisation and the children’s agenda in England.”

Date: 7th May

Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm

Location: Surrey Square Primary School, Surrey Square, London SE17 2JY

Cost: £50

Refreshments and lunch will be provided

An e-mail will be sent to you confirming a place.

Closing date: Friday 29th April 2016


Sign up via the link below:

FREE CPD: Last chance to sign up! Effective Leadership

STSA are offering two FREE sessions on effective leadership. These sessions will be run by Nicola Noble and Liz Robinson (NLE) both highly experienced trainers and headteachers. At each session they will be providing support on a variety of topics and participants will be able to choose which are the most appropriate sessions for them:

Session 1 will include support on the following:

Organisation – How to ensure effective time management.
Planning ahead to ensure impact.
Diary management/planning

Making things happen – action planning

Managing conflict

Date and time: 26th April 3.45 – 5.15pm
Session 2 will include support on the following:

Work/life balance
Prioritising and working smart

Date and time: 7th June 3.45 – 5.15pm

This course would be very suitable for anyone new to leadership or about to take a leadership role in the next academic year.

Location: Surrey Square Primary School, London SE17 2JY

Book now via the link below!