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Dixons Academies Trust

Dixons a proud partner of national Exemplary Leadership Programme

Posted 15th September 2020

We are delighted to be a partner in a ground-breaking and innovative new leadership programme for school leaders, fully funded by the Department for Education (DfE) for its first cohort, launching in September 2020. The Exemplary Leadership Programme will be delivered by a consortium of high-performing UK schools alongside leading US leadership development provider, the Leverage Leadership Institute.

Dixons Institute, the training and development arm of Dixons Academies Trust, will deliver the new national programme in partnership with Star Institute, Outwood Grange Academy Trust, Inspiration Trust and the internationally-renowned Leverage Leadership Institute, part of the Uncommon Schools Charter School organisation in America. The consortium of leading education providers has been appointed to deliver one of two national DfE pilots.

Following the principles of Leverage Leadership, the Exemplary Leadership Programme will guide school leaders in how to establish a strong school culture (routines and behaviour management), effective teaching founded on direct instruction, and aspirational outcomes for pupils through a knowledge-rich curriculum.

Paul Bambrick-Santoyo, author of Leverage Leadership and founder of Leverage Leadership Institute, defines day-to-day instruction as “observing classrooms, coaching teachers to make them better, leading or planning professional training for teachers, using data to drive instruction and evaluating teachers.” He describes this as ‘the most important work in the school building, in our society you could argue’ and says that in many schools this goes ‘unmanaged’.

Mufti Hamid Patel CBE, Chief Executive of Star Academies, said ‘Great leadership depends on having an ambitious vision of what is to be achieved and a common-sense approach to making change happen. This programme equips leaders for success by using the principles that make the Uncommon Schools approach so impactful. Delivery by the expert Leverage Leadership Institute includes virtual visits to some of the best schools in the country, enabling participants to observe directly the practical strategies that make a positive difference to young people’s lives’.

The programme provides funded places for two leaders from 120 schools across England. It will follow a series of ‘see it, name it, do it’ cycles so that participants both explore the theory and are supported in its implementation in the context of their own school improvement priorities.

Kathleen Sullivan, Managing Director of the Leverage Leadership Institute, explained: “Leaders need to see a model of what a skill looks like when it’s done well. Then name it, ideally using common, concise language, which is the key to remembering it. Lastly, they need to ‘do it’, if leaders don’t commit the skill to muscle memory during professional development and immediately after, they will not learn it.”

Julie Slater, Chief Executive Principal at Outwood Grange, said: “It’s great to be a part of a programme which is deliberately designed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by online learning platforms. Online delivery isn’t a backup plan here, it’s chosen because it removes the barriers imposed by geography and enables you to see a school in session through the eyes of an exemplary leader.”

Given the current pandemic, the programme’s online delivery will ensure accessibility and no interruption for participants, even if there are local lockdowns. Equally, the programme can reach colleagues in more remote locations who might otherwise struggle to engage with national training programmes.

Jenny Thompson, Executive Principal at Dixons explains how this innovative leadership programme will guide participants through the process for improvement that they have codified as a Trust: “Decide your culture, visit aspirational environments, be critical, set your expectations, micro-script processes, devote time to planning and refining, practise to the point of automaticity and beyond, review, remain critical, deliver consistency, and continue to engage with new research.”

Effective leadership is central on the journey to raising aspirations and improving outcomes for children. Claire Heald, Standards Director from Inspiration Trust says ‘This programme opens the doors to some of the UK’s top schools, distils exemplary leadership practice and places a priority on contextualising and applying this learning. Coupled with the unique opportunity to have two leaders from each organisation undertaking the programme together, this presents an opportunity to increase leadership capacity, and in doing so, to raise aspirations and outcomes for pupils across the country.’

During the pilot year of the programme, places are fully funded, but limited to small initial cohort of 240 leaders from 120 schools from across the country, applications will open on 21 September and close on 9 October.

To find out more about the programme, and to express an interest, you can visit Star Institute’s website: