Sir Michael Barber, John Jackson and Debbie Leonard

Sir Michael Barber has been appointed chair of the Foundation for Leadership in Education, a new body for aspiring school leaders.

Sir Michael, currently the chief education adviser of Pearson, says he wants to put in place “seamless school leadership development for the future” in a way that differed from the approach of the government-funded National College for School Leadership.

“The foundation will be totally owned, driven and lead by the profession, taking a rhetoric of the Gove, Morgan and Cameron era of improvement led by the school leaders themselves. We are going to take that literally,” he says.

“Every parent knows how important it is for each school to have a great headteacher. It is exciting to see the profession itself taking responsibility for making that possible.”

Sir Michael served as head of Tony Blair’s delivery unit from 2001 to 2005, and as chief adviser to education secretary David Blunkett on school standards from 1997 to 2001.

He studied history at the University of Oxford.

John Jackson is the new chief executive for the London Grid for Learning Trust (LGfL).

The former chief information officer of Camden Council replaces Brian Durrant, who retires after 15 years leading the trust.

Mr Jackson says he will continue to focus on delivering “massive economies of scale and knowledge to our schools and customers more generally so we can spend as much money on education as opposed to administration”. He also wants to use profits to reinvest in schools and education.

He says the LGfL is currently building a “public sector SuperCloud” for schools so that services are “cheaper . . . and support key initiatives such as shared services and devolution”.

Mr Jackson was responsible for digital innovation and technology in his ten years at Camden.

He studied history at Newcastle University before completing an MSc in information technology at De Montfort University.

Debbie Leonard is to succeed Chris Jeffery as headteacher of The Grange School, an independent school in Cheshire, from the beginning of September.

She joins from Croydon High School, an independent day school for girls aged 3-18 in south London, where she has been head since 2010.

Ms Leonard, who has spent her career in a variety of independent schools, says she is “extremely excited” about moving to The Grange and having the “opportunity to lead a school that is not only academically very impressive but, more importantly, has a strong culture and the ambition to further develop excellence across all areas of the curriculum”.

Ms Leonard will work with Mr Jeffery for the remainder of this school year to “ensure she is introduced fully to the school, its people and its ways”.

Mr Jeffery is to become headmaster of Bootham School in York.

A keen sportsperson, Ms Leonard has coached hockey to national level and says she is a strong advocate of outdoor learning. She is also an independent schools inspector.


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  1. keef feeley

    Leading & Managing Schools & Academies in 21st Century
    Why has Education ignored the lessons learned from the business world and what happened to the “Distributed Leadership” solution to the ‘Leadership Crisis’?. The shortage of effective leaders & staff could be resolved by adopting the TQM/systemic approach (Kaizen) which seems ideal for education and schools. The business world realised many decades ago that “Quality” needed to be understood and measured effectively, yet education still only use exam results as a measure and ignored the Hay McBer research and assessment of skills. Much of the frustration and stress that many (most) staff presently feel could be removed if all teachers were treated as leaders and managers, sharing in communication, decisions and operation of the whole organisation/school (instead of just SLT & MLT) establishing a culture where quality is effectively measured and evidence is used as a matter of routine.