Cath Rindl – Nansen School, Birmingham

Cath Rindl is an experienced Primary Head Teacher working within inner city Birmingham. She was born in Manchester and came to Birmingham to study gaining B.Ed Hons in Physical Education and a Masters in Primary Education.   

Cath Rindl

Cath’s teaching career began in Sandwell and, after quick promotions, was appointed Deputy Head at Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School West Bromwich and then moved across the border into Birmingham to become the Head Teacher of Benson Community School.

Whilst at Benson, Cath supported and led a number of schools in special measures, this was recognised in her appointment as a Local Leader in Education.  It was this ability to transform vulnerable schools that lead Cath to answer Nansen’s need.  Cath successfully balanced two schools, resulting in Nansen achieving a good rating from Ofsted in March 2016.

Nansen Primary School has 964 pupils making it one of the largest primary schools not only in Birmingham but in the country. The school has had a turbulent history being placed in Special Measures in April 2014. It was one of five schools in the city rated as inadequate by Ofsted in the wake of the Trojan Horse investigation.

Cath, with support from Head Teacher colleagues from Greet Teaching School Alliance, initiated the turnaround through developing Nansen’s new identity and bringing a pride back into the school for staff, pupils and their families. A new exciting engaging curriculum ensured that the school began to buzz again.

Cath lead Nansen to its first ever Good rating from Ofsted in March 2016, less than two years to turn it round.  An amazing feat especially when you consider she was running two schools.  Cath though is always the first to acknowledge that this success was down to teamwork and everyone having the same shared vision for the schools.

Nansen is now fortunate to have Cath full time as their permanent Head Teacher as the journey continues for all the Nansen Explorers, who will always be at the heart of everything she does.


During our conversation, I tried to avoid talking about football, which is what often happens when we meet.  Since Cath is a Man Utd fan I did not want to give them any unnecessary airtime.  When not talking about football teams that you should not support unless you are from the area, we covered the following themes:

  • Why Cath took a risk by answering the call from a struggling school involved in the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham
  • The benefits of a becoming an academy and working with an academy trust
  • Why children need someone to give them a voice
  • Why Nansen School needed to become a team with a new identity, vision and uniform
  • What to do when staff try to give you their monkeys
  • When to stop making lists!
  • Why headteachers are so good at Trivial Pursuit
  • How Cath used Evolve to help “bring the calm” to her school
  • Why headteachers must always remember that staff are human beings
  • What a “Teaching Assistant with Wings” is

You will notice that a number of themes from earlier podcasts appear in this conversation such as happy children, staff as human beings and the importance of a balanced curriculum.


If I was going to go to war with an army of headteachers against an invading army of marauding academics hell-bent on narrowing the curriculum I would definitely have Cath on the front line rallying troops and leading the charge.

It is my great pleasure to introduce my friend and colleague, Cath Rindl.


Listen to this episode on iTunes

Download the interview as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as”


  1. Cath is the headteacher of Nansen Primary School which is part of the Core Education Trust
  2. Nansen Primary School is named after Fridtjof Nansen was an explorer
  3. Birmingham Education Partnership was created by Birmingham schools as a network to provide support services to schools
  4. Cath’s former school is Benson Community School (where I am on the Governing Body)
  5. Tim Brighouse is the former Chief Education Officer in Birmingham
  6. Cath quoted an analogy from Ken Blanchard’s book: The One Minute Manager
  7. S.U.M.O. (Shut Up, Move On): The Straight-Talking Guide to Creating and Enjoying a Brilliant Life Paul McGee is another book that has helped Cath during her leadership journey
  8. Tagtiv8 is the active learning game created by Bryn Llewellyn, friend of Evolve who was mentioned in my interview with Alison Kriel

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