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Lisa Griffin

Youngest headteacher in the UK is outstanding

How did the youngest headteacher in the UK, Siobhan Easton, achieve outstanding in her school’s first Ofsted inspection? Lisa Griffin, content lead for Leadership and Governance, interviews her to find out.

Youngest headteacher Leading CPD

Siobhan Easton, aged 27, heateacher at Marine Academy Plymouth (MAP) Primary School is the youngest head in the UK and oversaw the school’s first Ofsted inspection earlier this year. Rated as outstanding, MAP is the first primary free school in the South West to achieve this.

At the school since it opened in September 2013, Siobhan joined as assistant head and became headteacher in April 2015. The school was praised by Ofsted for turning below average achievement levels when pupils arrive at the school into above average performance.

Does your ‘youngest UK headteacher’ accolade have an impact on your leadership?

It’s talked about a lot but it’s nice! I’ve been here since the school opened and it hasn’t been an issue for me. Headship was a natural progression for me; I had been a senior leader for a few years and felt ready for the next step.

There is always more to learn, regardless of age. It’s important to model the work ethic you expect and ensure your team share your vision and that’s the same for leaders of any age.

I’m very new as a head but I want to continually develop; I want to know what other school leaders are doing, what I can learn from them and whether there is anything I could be doing differently to improve.

Your first leadership role was as a SENCO, how did that prepare you for headship?

It was a great start to leadership. As a SENCO, you work at a whole-school level. You gain a close understanding of the differences that children with an additional learning need require and how you can support your teachers in providing for them.

Working with pupils, teachers, parents and other agencies, I learnt a lot from a range of experiences and people and it was a big step into leadership. As a headteacher I now focus on how to help and support all pupils in the school and develop staff to be able to do that too.

Your leadership was highly praised by Ofsted as ‘inspirational.’ How do you encourage staff to develop?

It’s a huge priority at MAP - we grow from within. When we opened the school we only had the executive head, me as assistant head and a part time teacher. We now have a reception leader and a Key Stage 1 leader. Someone has been working alongside me for the past year in preparation for taking on the curriculum leader role in September. Our new Key Stage 1 leader is an external appointment but otherwise all our leadership is developed from existing staff.

The staff attend local networking events with other schools, take CPD courses and invest time in developing their interests. Knowledge and skills gained are brought back to the school and shared with the rest of the team.

Every staff meeting agenda has a standing item of 'Feedback from relevant CPD.' Any staff member who has recently been on a course, school visit or training takes a Q&A session in the meeting and discusses how other teachers might use the resources or ideas in their own teaching.

I also encourage staff to approach me with suggestions for training and CPD. As part of whole-school improvement planning we identify knowledge or skills gaps, both in appraisal meetings and as an ongoing process. I have a great team and it’s my job to support them.

What does the future hold for MAP?

We have one area of improvement from Ofsted, which was around maths, so that is a priority this year.

We’re growing in terms of staff numbers, with four new teachers starting in September, and in capacity. During the inspection we were Reception through to Year 3 but we also have Year 4 from September and we want to maintain outstanding while our capacity grows.

That’s the big priority - maintaining outstanding. Education changes constantly with new legal requirements, legislation and staffing so it’s crucial to move forward, progress with it and keep education and the children at the heart of it.

 

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