Top education expert to lead school leadership foundation

04 March 2016

Sir Michael Barber, one of England’s most respected and influential education experts, has been appointed as the independent chair of the new Foundation for Leadership in Education. 

His appointment is a major step forward in the work of the Foundation, an independent and profession-led body for the development of the outstanding school leaders of the future. The aim would be for this country to be a world leader in leadership development. 

Sir Michael is Chief Education Adviser of education company Pearson. He previously served as Head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit from 2001 to 2005, and as Chief Adviser to the Education Secretary on school standards from 1997 to 2001. 

He said: "In a school system with devolved responsibility and clear accountability, the quality of school leadership becomes decisive. 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. The Foundation will collaborate with all those committed to high quality, innovative school leadership." 

Stephen Munday, Executive Principal of Comberton Village College, in Cambridgeshire, and a member of the Teaching Schools Council, has been appointed vice chair of the Foundation.

The Foundation will help schools build a pipeline of excellent leaders with the skills, knowledge and support to give every child an outstanding education.

It will focus on the development of school leaders, working with providers of professional learning to quality assure courses and devise clear progression routes for aspiring leaders. The Foundation will promote greater equality and diversity in leadership teams.

It will devise and oversee new standards for each phase of educational leadership, and it will identify and share research on the most effective practice.

The Foundation is being established by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT). It will be run by a board of trustees and developed in consultation with the profession.

Russell Hobby, General Secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“We are delighted to welcome Sir Michael Barber to the Foundation for Leadership. The Foundation has ambitious and necessary goals; it will ensure a sustained focus on leadership quality. Sir Michael’s 20 years of experience in education improvement and government reform will be vital to our success.

Malcolm Trobe, Interim General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
“This is about the profession stepping forward and taking the education system to the next level. It is about school leaders taking ownership of leadership development and professional standards and making sure that their successors have the best possible preparation. They have the skills and experience to guide the most effective development. Owned and led by the profession, the Foundation will set the highest standards and help ensure there is a ready supply of great leaders.”

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association, said:
“The Foundation was created in recognition that successful leadership is the cornerstone of improving England’s schools and colleges. It will have a crucial role in realising a generation of superb leaders and governors by developing and promoting leadership standards and by hosting a constructive dialogue between education leaders and policy makers. It is important that the Foundation demonstrates its own commitment to good leadership and we welcome Sir Michael Barber to the helm.”