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Mind the Gap, Episode 20 — Putting Staff First with John Tomsett & Jonny Uttley

In this episode, Tom and Emma speak with John Tomsett and Jonny Uttley, co-authors of Putting Staff First: A Blueprint for Revitalising Our Schools, published by John Catt Educational. The book outlines the creation of a school environment that results in a happy, healthy, motivated, well-trained, expert staff—all to give students the best teaching possible.

Uttley starts by describing his working relationship with Tomsett. He reminisces about Tomsett as an early mentor and partner in improving a school’s culture and solidifying their mutual goals. (2:45) Uttley describes his present position as CEO in schools set up as a charitable trust.

Tomsett speaks of his dual position as head teacher and teacher, producing a blend of leadership responsibilities with everyday teaching plans. (5:10) He is involved in lesson changeovers, mask mandates, and a variety of hands-on duties. He is a proponent of Vivian Robinson’s philosophy of the importance of having leaders teach and making the process of teaching easier to manage.

The interview continues with discussing leaders embracing the fundamental role of removing teachers’ barriers (8:55). Removal practices are brought up as key components to school improvement and the simplification of ingrained habits. It’s important to start with the assumption of professional trust that eventually leads to evidence-informed desires. (29:05) As Tomsett sums up, it comes down to creating a school with high standards that is also a great place to work -— something not too cozy but also not based on fear.

Watch episode 19 with Tom and Emma’s thoughts on culture, leadership, diversity, and the assessment discourse here: https://youtu.be/s7eOGcICDpg 

To find all video episodes, featuring additional segments from Tom and Emma, subscribe to Mind the Gap with Tom & Emma on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/MindtheGapwithTomEmma 

To listen to the audio version, subscribe here on your preferred podcast app: https://anchor.fm/mindthegap-edu

About the participants:

John Tomsett has been a teacher for 27 years and a head teacher for 12. He is head teacher at Huntington School, York. He co-founded The Headteachers’ Roundtable think tank and is a popular speaker on school leadership. Follow John on Twitter @johntomsett

Jonny Uttley is CEO of The Education Alliance Multi-Academy Trust. Follow Jonny on Twitter @JonnyUttley

Tom Sherrington has worked in schools as a teacher and leader for 30 years and is now a consultant specializing in teacher development and curriculum & assessment planning. His books include Teaching WalkThrus, Rosenshine’s Principles in Action and The Learning Rainforest Fieldbook. He regularly contributes to conferences and CPD sessions locally and nationally and is busy working in schools and colleges across the UK and around the world. Follow Tom on Twitter @teacherhead

Emma Turner joined Discovery Schools Academy Trust as the Research and CPD lead after 20 years in primary teaching. She is the founder of ‘NewEd – Joyful CPD for early career teachers,’ a not-for-profit approach to CPD to encourage positivity amongst the profession and help to retain teachers in post. Turner is author of Be More Toddler: A Leadership Education From Our Little Learners and Let’s Talk About Flex: Flipping the flexible working narrative for education

Follow Emma on Twitter @emma_turner75

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