James Toop is CEO of Ambition School Leadership, an Ark Venture that aims to build a network of exceptional school leaders at all levels to transform the lives of the children who need it most.
Ambition provides world-class leadership development and technical training to educators across England and Wales.
Last year I saw one of our headteachers implementing a new family dining initiative after seeing it at another participant's school. I heard two middle leaders talk about how they had supported each other to continue the journey out of 'special measures'. I witnessed the joy of participants on our programme who were reunited at residential training events, a year after starting the programme together.
It was in the spirit of these inspirational collaborations that we launched Ambition:Feed – a brand-new platform for school leaders to explore and share strategies to help every child succeed.
Every month over the next year we’ll bring a challenge to the table for discussion on the platform. And we kicked things off by looking at the very reason so many of us are in education: raising the aspirations of children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.
When we surveyed school leaders at all levels in 2017 on the challenges they face, an overwhelming proportion cited this as one of the biggest, and it’s at the very heart of our mission as a charity.
Listen to our brand new podcast below, which is full of honest conversation from school leaders. The first episode features a discussion between two Manchester-based leaders, Rowena Kidd and Stephen Garvey. Rowena is Assistant Headteacher at Stretford High School, and Stephen is Associate Deputy Headteacher at All Saints Catholic College in nearby Dukinfield.
They discuss what low aspiration looks like in their schools, and the role of leadership in raising the aspirations of pupils, parents and staff. Tune in to hear conversation about the challenges they face and some fantastic initiatives and advice for ensuring their pupils aim for the stars.
We want you to be part of this conversation, too. You can get involved over on Twitter using the hashtag, #ambitionfeed, and we’ve also launched a Facebook group for in-depth discussion and debate – everyone is welcome, but the group is closed to ensure you can have honest conversations in a private sphere.
I’m looking forward to seeing great minds come together to tackle these challenges every month – we hope you enjoy being involved.
Get involved in the discussions over at Ambition:Feed.
A version of this blogpost originally appeared on the Ambition School Leadership website.