Andrew Morrish – Victoria Park, Smethwick

Andrew is the Founder Chief Executive of Victoria Academies, a multi-academy trust in the West Midlands, currently consisting of six primary schools and a SCITT teacher training centre (Central England Teacher Training). As well as CEO, Andrew is the Executive Headteacher of Victoria Park Academy, which he led from special measures to outstanding in exactly one thousand days. Victoria Park Academy was shortlisted for the TES School of the Year in 2013.

Prior to this, Andrew was the Headteacher in East London of one of the largest primary schools in the country with almost one thousand pupils, a school that he also led to outstanding. He is passionate about the role creativity, social enterprise and the role that innovation can play in creating standout schools.  

Andrew holds a first class BEd Honours degree as well as a Masters in Education, both from the University of Liverpool. He is a National Leader of Education, author and Fellow of the RSA. For eight years he worked as an Ofsted inspector before resigning on a matter of principle.

Andrew is an international speaker on school leadership and has written for national newspapers such as The Guardian. He is chair of the board of Arts Connect West Midlands (an Arts Council England bridge organisation) and is a trustee of a rural MAT in Shropshire. For many years he chaired the governing body of his local village primary school. Andrew blogs at www.andrewmorrish.me and can be found on Twitter @AndrewDMorrish.

Andrew_Morrish

Summary

I could not think of a better guest to conclude this series of interviews that Andrew Morrish.  Andrew is renowned for school transformation and developing schools that are world-class centres for learning.  You can gain a brief insight into Andrew’s reputation amongst his peers by reviewing the reviewers of his recent book, including high profile educators such as Russell Hobby, Geoff Barton and Professor John West-Burnham.

Like all previous 7 guests, I had a theme in mind before starting the interview but Andrew’s success cannot be attributed to any single factor.  Instead, he applies sound educational principles to the local context and uses all available resources to his advantage.  

What is clear is that Andrew has not become a successful leader by chance.  He has clearly stated a bold vision for his schools, made brave decisions, used partners strategically and committed wholeheartedly to making it all happen.    

am

Some of the topics covered in our wide-ranging discussion include:

  • How a highly successful headteacher dealt with sustained periods of self-doubt
  • Why resilience is a key prerequisite for all school leadership roles
  • Why academy converters need to avoid isolating themselves by identifying the right partnerships
  • How to develop confident and self-assured learners using a social enterprise curriculum
  • What a Social Enterprise Lead Teacher actually does within a school
  • How to take a school from special measures to outstanding in 1,000 days (p.s. there is no formula for this)
  • Why all teachers should have a health and wellbeing plan alongside their CPD plan
  • How writing and blogging can hold yourself to account and improve your thinking
  • Lessons school leaders can learn from the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra
  • How to combine being a headteacher with a part time farmer

We could easily have continued the conversation for at least another hour but I am sure that there is sufficient content in here for you to ponder over the coming weeks.

Andrew – for this interview I would like to give you an A!

Interview

Listen to this episode on iTunes

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Notes

  1. Andrew is the Executive Headteacher of Victoria Park Academy and Founder CEO of Victoria Academies Trust
  2. Andrew’s book is The Art of Standing Out: School Transformation, to Greatness and Beyond.  Check out the reviews!
  3. Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) helped Andrew to embed social enterprise with the school curriculum
  4. Victoria Park Academy is a key member of the Whole Education network and we spoke about the forthcoming Whole Education Summer Conference that may be of interest to schools who would like to learn more about this movement.
  5. Professor Guy Claxton was mentioned by Andrew.  Guy neatly coined the term “learnish” to encompass the language of learning used in the classroom. His book Building Learning Power is about how teachers can help young people become better learners, both in school and out and includes the ‘four R model’ of Resilience, Resourcefulness, Reflectiveness and Reciprocity.
  6. We discussed the development of thinking skills within school and I mentioned a presentation that I had recently seen by Ian Gilbert.  Andrew referenced Ian’s The Little Book of Thunks: 260 Questions to Make Your Brain Go Ouch!
  7. The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Ben Zander from the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra was an inspiration for Andrew’s book.
  8. Summer Things by Joseph Connolly is what Andrew is currently re-reading.  Having afterwards read the review for this novel, I wish that we would have discussed it further during the interview.
  9. Andrew mentioned speaker, coach and humorist Steve McDermott as someone worth checking out.  Steve’s book that was referenced is titled How to be a Complete and Utter Failure in Life, Work and Everything: 44 1/2 Steps to Lasting Underachievement.

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