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Roundtable discussion on new executive headteachers research

18 July 2016

Experts from across the education sector have met for a roundtable discussion to explore the findings of new research on the role of executive headteachers. The research is the work of three leading education charities, The Future Leaders Trust, National Foundation for Educational Research and National Governors’ Association.

The discussion reflected the creative ways that leaders in the school system are responding to the challenges of the executive headteacher in a self-improving school system.

Here are some comments about the research.

The new research on the rise of Executive Heads provides valuable insights into the evolution of the role, their relationship to other school leaders and the critical skills and training needed to ensure that executive leaders have the greatest impact on children’s life chances,” James Toop, CEO, Teaching Leaders

The growing prevalence of executive heads across the school system, the growth of MATs, and the importance of a strong pipeline of future school and system leaders means we need to understand much better what leadership looks like over more than an individual school. This new research starts to offer answers to this important public policy challenge, and suggests areas for further work,” Jonathan Simons, Head of Education Unit, Policy Exchange.

ASCL welcomes this timely report. Executive leadership is an essential part of the current education landscape. In the school-led self-improving system, it is up to the profession to define the remit and responsibilities of executive leaders, not the DfE. There is much to learn from executive leadership in other public sector professions in this regard,” Leora Cruddas, Director of Policy and Public Relations, ASCL

The executive head role is part of the landscape now but is often loosely defined. The same title can cover a range of different responsibilities. Properly designed, executive headship can offer further career development for talented leaders and also create a collaborative environment in which other leaders can flourish. Let’s not get bogged down in conflicts over precedence: each trust or group should define roles clearly for themselves from the start,” Russell Hobby, General Secretary, NAHT.

This report shines a light on the fact that the role of executive headship is developing fast. It has therefore never been more important to ensure there is clarity about the purpose of executive headship and how the role will operate in practice. We can then understand its benefits and plan effective ways of working,” Andy Buck, managing Director, Leadership Matters.