About us

Origins

The Headteachers’ Roundtable originated from a roundtable meeting on 12 October 2012 at The Guardian newspaper offices. It grew out of frustration regarding current government educational policy and the Opposition response to it. Its origins and subsequent growth are down to the power of Twitter as a tool for connecting people to try and bring about change where they feel it is needed. 

Core Purpose

We are a non-party political headteachers’ group operating as a think-tank, exploring policy issues from a range of perspectives.  Our goal is to provide a vehicle for people working in the profession to influence national education policymakers so that education policy is centred upon what is best for the learning of all children.

In February 2014, we expanded our Core Group to include 12 Headteachers.

Composition of the Core Headteachers’ Group

  • Chris McShane – Headteacher, Quilley School of Engineering, Eastleigh
  • Dave Whitaker – Executive Principal, Springwell (‘Special’) Community School and Barnsley PRU
  • Sir David Carter – CEO, Cabot Learning Federation
  • Duncan Spalding - Headteacher, Aylsham High School, Norfolk
  • John Tomsett – Headteacher, Huntington School, York
  • Jon Chaloner – Executive Headteacher of GLF Schools; Glyn School & Danetree Junior School, Epsom; Lime Tree Primary School, Reigate
  • Liam Collins – Headteacher, Uplands Community College, Wadhurst, East Sussex
  • Rob Campbell – Headteacher, Impington Village College, Cambridge
  • Ros McMullen – Principal, David Young Community Academy, Leeds and CEO Leaf Academy Trust
  • Ruth Whymark – Headteacher, Cranmer Primary School, Merton
  • Tom Sherrington – Headteacher, King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford
  • Vic Goddard – Principal, Passmores Academy, Harlow

47 thoughts on “About us

  1. Sonette Schwartz October 26, 2012 at 9:35 pm Reply

    I am the principal of the above school and I am very interested in what you have to say!

  2. Kevin October 28, 2012 at 10:17 am Reply

    Just what I have been waiting for, an excellent initiative. As an educational writer, researcher and innovator anything I can do to help, just ask.

  3. russellplester October 31, 2012 at 9:14 pm Reply

    I’m sure you have a very clear focus, but some things that currently worry me – overly controlling, micromanaging & politicising of education at every level despite promised ‘freedoms’.- teacher training, exams, ofsted, targets, use of media to criticise, national curriculum, appraisal, what to put on your website!!! etc etc in no partic order!
    Love the fact a) you have set up this grp & b) your principals.
    Also love the ideas & views in Fullan’s Professional Capital book, which you seem to espouse.
    Good luck, we are right behind you.

  4. Nicola H. October 31, 2012 at 9:54 pm Reply

    Very excited about what we can achieve together. Can’t wait to spread the word to other Headteachers!

  5. Kerry Pulleyn November 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm Reply

    At last, it’s great to see that the experts can get together to influence education policy positively, and with genuine understanding, rather than leaving an issue this important to political whim. I know I speak for many teachers in wishing all power to your collective elbows.

  6. Peter Rubery November 2, 2012 at 10:18 am Reply

    Thanks for instigating the roundtable . I’m happy to help in any way you think appropriate. We are a Champion school for the Whole Education network. It might be worth making a connection as it’s a movement motivated by the same agenda.
    Peter Rubery, The Fallibroome Academy.

  7. Lesley King November 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm Reply

    Hope that point 4 does nor mean that best engine of transformation of education is always small families of local schools. This is certainly unproven, though more could be done to encourage teacher-led school- and family of school–based educational research to inform local developments. This provides specific context and enpowers teachers.

  8. Alan MacAskill November 2, 2012 at 8:35 pm Reply

    Deputy Head of Community Secondary School in Hackney.
    The beginning of a serious debate about the future direction of education is very welcome at a moment when there is an obsession with assessment and outcome rather than the importance of learning and its role in the future well being of young people.

  9. frankdavies November 5, 2012 at 9:14 am Reply

    I am a Head of the School of Teacher Education (teacher training) in Australia. I am watching closely as I believe you are the right people at the right time. Even though I am in Australia, be assured of my support.
    Dr. Frank Davies

  10. Adrian Bradshaw November 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm Reply

    At last some activity from practising shop floor professionals.
    But until we take education back from the politicians and take control of OUR profession, nothing will change. The advice of leading thinkers has been ignored for years. Politicians see education as a stepping stone to party leadership. Doctors are not dictated to. Why are we? We need to stop the constant erosion of public confidence in teachers and schools. Loss of public confidence is ramping up. Who is our spokesperson and why are they not more vocal?

  11. John Simes November 21, 2012 at 10:05 am Reply

    Your final contributor has already missed the point. It is about the young people, not concentrating power in the hands of a group of professionals. The key issues are facilitating great teaching and learning and identifying the factors that mitigate against that, and being honest about why parents continue to covet private education and want to form Free Schools. I really like the overall direction of this group and would like to contribute.

  12. Andrew Pollard November 21, 2012 at 2:32 pm Reply

    ‘Children’s learning at the centre of educational debate’! Whatever next?
    Very good to see.

  13. Emma Garden December 5, 2012 at 11:26 pm Reply

    Please could you let me know how I can add my voice to the opposition of the Ebac?

  14. Cynthia Rowley January 19, 2013 at 10:34 am Reply

    Taking control of your education is the perfect words. Each individual needs to take the step to further their education. You can find resources at smart-educational-resources-us.blogspot.it/

  15. mmiweb January 19, 2013 at 2:02 pm Reply

    Hi I am a PGCE tutor (as well as an ex-Deputy, Advisor and Inspector) and I both frustrated and disapointed at the moment. Frustrated because of the uber-politicisation of education where ideology has overtaken any kind of reasoned debate as ‘evidence based policy’ (remember that phrase) where the rights of the few have steamrolled the rights of the many (I was vice-chair of a school where there was no vote of the parents to become an academy [I resigned]) and where the marketisation and capitalist agenda is dominant over the social, pastoral or cognitive agenda. Disappointed because as a profession that only things we have actually got active about have been our own pockets – we should have been out on the streets about the destruction of local democracy, about the social divisive nature of examination change, about the educational nonsense that are SATs and league tables and about the deprofessionalisation of teacher education. I would be very keen to be involved and support this movement.

  16. Karen Sancto January 28, 2013 at 9:39 pm Reply

    I read the tweets with interest. It is easy to be cynical but what I like about this group is the optimism for positive change!

  17. Mark Mackley January 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm Reply

    Heard about you today from senior adviser at HT conference.
    Look forward to seeing what happens!

  18. trevor fisher February 4, 2013 at 9:03 pm Reply

    dear heads roundtable

    I tried responding to your consultation document, but it would not open. As the editor of education politics and editor of a new pamphlet on EBacc i have been trying to contact you for a month. No joy. How can we have a campaign if you have no contact details and the only postal address in south wales gives no response?

    I can be contacted via socialist educational Association. The problems with opening your consultation I cannot understand

    trevor fisher

    editor, Education Politics.

  19. David Sims February 5, 2013 at 10:16 am Reply

    I am a programme director at the University of the Arts London – London College of Communication. We are concerned about the EBacc and the effect it will have on our sector.

    Colleagues may be interested in: What’s in the Pipeline? ukadia 2013 conference

    ‘With arts and design education being squeezed in the secondary school timetable and not part of the EBacc, and ongoing funding concerns for arts further and higher education including postgraduate, the conference will explore how we protect the pipeline of creative practitioners to the UK’s highly successful creative and cultural sector’.

    http://www.ukadia.ac.uk

  20. Education Reform (@Educ_Reform) February 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm Reply

    I agree with Trevor. You seem to be doing the very thing that education needs – act as a concerted voice for and by many of the voices that matter – those in education and not the politicians. But it is crucial that you act openly and embrace as many supporters as you can. At the very least, read Trevors booklet on the EBaccs.

  21. Maurice Holt February 7, 2013 at 10:01 am Reply

    I like everything I’ve read about the heads’ roundtable – and most of all, their recognition that the curriculum, and the process of learning rather than assessable outcomes, are key to promoting understanding as well as knowledge. A group of us have launched the slow education movement so as to shift the emphasis away from neoliberal policy to the quality of the encounter between teacher and student. Our website offers examples of how this approach can re-animate the curriculum.

  22. Prof. Ken Spours March 15, 2013 at 7:22 am Reply

    One nation does not need two systems – beyond the academic/vocational divide in 14-19 education
    6.00-7.30pm Wednesday 20 March, Room 728, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

    At the third Open Lecture of 2013, Prof. Ken Spours will argue that the Labour Party should develop a Tech Bacc that part of a unified baccalaureate framework for all learners and not just the bottom 50 per cent. Supporting the Headteachers’ Roundtable qualifications framework proposal, he will outline the conditions needed for a unified and inclusive English Baccalaureate System that brings together strong vocational education and increased levels of apprenticeship and the 21st Century competences for all young people to be able to access further study in further and higher education. Ken will suggest that unified approaches to 14-19 education can incorporate some aspects of qualifications reforms proposed by Michael Gove and Elizabeth Truss, but will argue for a radical strategy in relation to assessment and a more collaborative and democratic middle tier.

  23. citizenshaw March 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm Reply

    Following with interest on Twitter…. out in Hong Kong teaching for a year after 12 years in UK… amazed on a daily basis at the ‘policy’ coming from central government; my International colleagues can’t believe it. Not retuning until the back benches eat Gove.

  24. Eiry Rees Thomas (@EiryReesThomas) March 24, 2013 at 3:24 pm Reply

    Thanks for the follow-back on Twitter. As a provider of content for KS2/3, I’m very interested in your initiative and would be very happy to collaborate.

  25. Gratton Mulcrow April 5, 2013 at 11:58 am Reply

    Very much looking forward to hearing about the outcomes of HTRT’s deliberations later this month!

  26. Rupert Page April 10, 2013 at 10:32 am Reply

    PLEASE ENSURE DRAMA HAS A PROPER, DISTINCT, PLACE IN ANY FUTURE CURRICULUM. It is planned out at the moment. this would be a national disgrace.

  27. Lynn Maidment May 2, 2013 at 11:30 am Reply

    I’m certain none of us can forget the compelling rhetoric of the 2010 White Paper when issues of social injustice, deprivation and the need to close the gap between wealtheir and poorer homes were spoken of at length. Doubtless we also recall the seemingly eroneous promises about schools being given “greater freedom over the curriculum” to design provision that best suited the needs of their children. Reent developments are apt to leave hard pressed professionals wondering how it is that politicial office can cause extreme cases of amnesia in those who hold it.
    As a profession we are apt be a rather disorganised bunch placing our trust in a variety of unions, seldom feeling empowered or passionate enough to demand change based on our collective voice or our deep rooted professional insights and conviction.Trying to keep abreast of current educational change has got many of us on the ropes, add to that the pressures of classroom teaching and school leadership and a group such as yours could provide a vital voice in the ongoing debate about policy and practice, helping more of our voices to be heard.

  28. Bettie Page May 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm Reply

    Very worried by the fact that: most of these headteachers are heads of schools that have chosen to become academies; that there is no clear agenda just a sort of general ‘opposition’, that these schools are creating a ‘twitter group’ rather than working through the headteacher’s associations or other established and credible structures, and much else besides. There is much to oppose in this governments current various stances on education reform but is this group about any more than lazy self-indulgence and self-promotion by headteachers who would quite like an OBE one day.

    • headteachersroundtable May 12, 2013 at 8:48 am Reply

      I’m sorry to say that you have misjudged our motives and our way of working. We all represent very different types of school and are members of other associations. ASCL, for example, has been very positive about our work and we’ve made links to many other groups. Our conferences are always publicised and are open to anyone. We’ve actually done quite a lot work, as well as running our schools so your description of us is rather unwarranted. Please engage with the ideas.

  29. Bettie Page May 14, 2013 at 11:37 am Reply

    What ideas? While what is presented here is perhaps not verbatim identical enough to be described as plagiarism. It seems tome that nothing here could really be described as fresh or innovative. Everything presented here – from vision statements ‘a belief in putting children first’ to specifics alternative ‘proposals regarding the ebacc’ is already out there in debate in at least a very similar form and has been for some time. I am afraid I stand by the concerns that I originally raised in my first comment above, that this entire project is lazy egotism.

    • headteachersroundtable May 19, 2013 at 9:09 pm Reply

      Dear Bettie, I’m not sure exactly what bothers you about this group. A group of people from a diverse set of schools have come together to share their ideas. That is it. We are no more or less important than that. The fact that other people have shown an interest is a secondary development. You are welcome to come to join in any of our meetings as others have done. The key idea so far is around an inclusive Baccalaureate framework; one system for all, providing continuity across all phases with levels of achievement for all students. It also includes the idea of progressive qualifications. If these aspects are included in other specific proposals, I’m not aware of them. Please share if you can direct me to them. We’re working with Whole Education, the Institute of Education, the SSAT and other groups and it feels to us that people are interested. We’re spending a lot of time researching and refining a model for a working version of our Bacc ideas… that will be published in due course.

  30. June Smith May 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm Reply

    I am sorry but I entirely agree with Betty. I fail to see the purpose or function of such a group. You haven’t presented us with any kind of meaningful debate or ideas to engage with so how can we engage? As a teacher for 20 years I have seen so many vacuous initiatives and empty-groups come and go and I am tired of them. Your vision is just an advertising slogan and as for the curriculum debate you seem to have nothing to say and to have joined in very late.

  31. June Smith May 14, 2013 at 6:31 pm Reply

    Well, it’s happened to me too, I left a politely worded but critical comment and it was deleted by the moderator. Can anyone at Headteachers’ Roundtable tell me why you do this? Is this a proper discussion site or hagiography – as in Betty’s comment above.

    • headteachersroundtable May 20, 2013 at 7:28 pm Reply

      Dear June. It is simply a manpower issue. We’re running this website as a store of documents and feedback on specific issues as they arise. The Bacc ideas are the first and the site will develop. We’re not really that interested in extended debate about the organisation itself. We are what we are; you can engage or ignore us completely. No comments are deleted – simply not responded to very promptly, for which I apologise.

  32. Bettie Page May 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm Reply

    I fear that this group is part of a worrying tendency to see education politics atomised, with self-appointed groups using the internet able to establish themselves as ‘spokespeople’ exactly because they do not have democratic accountability, enabling them to promise a lot quickly. This process undermines the democratically accountable structures such as unions who are involved in a slower but more meaningful debate. I also distrust the apolitical lable that you attach to yourselves. As (contributor) Les Gower points out on another page on your site and as you cautiously hedge around – this group seems to have what could be defined as a clearly conservative centre right agenda, not Govian but still right wing. This is fine, the right have been an important voice in past political debates but small groups like this, as yours is, tend to be less open as to where they stand politically, again reducing their accountability through the seemingly warm language of apolitical-ness. Oh and by the way, why have the comments made by my colleague June Smith been moderated off the forum? They were cautious and polite but reasonably critical and from an experienced teacher, surely the sort of person you should be listening to – a worrying sign?.

    • headteachersroundtable May 20, 2013 at 7:22 pm Reply

      If you met us, which would be easy, we could soon disabuse you this perception. We have approved most comments; we have hidden one page because it was an older version of the Bacc proposal- to avoid confusion. The comments went with it; not sure how to do it differently. We’re more interested in debate about issues – eg the details of the Bacc proposal – rather than debating our existence. Some of us are members of Labour. Unions are obviously massive important organisations but they represent members in a specific way. We’re all union members too. HTRT is more nimble and that is valuable in getting thing moving. Les Gower appears to want to link us to UKIP; that is stretching things a long way. I can’t see anything we have in common.

  33. Bettie Page May 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm Reply

    I am more than happy to send you information based on groups designing a similar curriculum but one of the more unusual aspects of your organisation is you have no way of being contacted other than this forum. Some of it involves pretty hefty atachments.

  34. James Underwood May 20, 2013 at 9:39 pm Reply

    It would be inappropriate here to raise the concerns that have been emailed to me but they have been many. I have especially received several emails in the past few days expressing anger at this group but with a clear and local sub-text that is not fully related to the work this group does. I believe comments by June and Bettie although fantastic teachers and / or union members also reflect this quite justifiable anger. Partly because of this I will be attending the session that this group will be giving at Cambridge University. I will try to summarise these issues raised by others in Cambridgeshire into a way that relates to HTRT into 4 or 5 questions. I am sure I will be given the chance to speak. I would therefore ask members to limit comments to HTRT to specifics and probably avoid the ‘about page’ and finally to address other Cambridgeshire specific issues via the proper channels and via their union who will advise on how to do this. I too have doubts regarding short-lived, small groups. However, it is worth remembering that most of our historic unions started this way. – James Underwood (NASUWT President Cambridge and Cambridgeshire Branches / TUC Executive Officer Cambridge)

    • headteachersroundtable June 4, 2013 at 5:35 pm Reply

      James,
      Rob and I are looking forward to the LfL event on Thursday. We will be talking about the work to-date of HTRT and the value of collaboration between Heads in any forum. In this case, we have been brought together via social media which, by a twist of fortune, has enabled a group comprising Heads of a wide cross-section of school-types to come together to discuss areas of mutual interest- something we are quite entitled to do. However, the main topic of the evening is our Baccalaureate Framework proposal. We have an exciting proposal that we’re hoping a number of schools will trial in the coming years; we’re also in a position to influence policy in this area and we’re making significant in-roads there. I have no idea about your local union issues; I honestly cannot see how this event could be an appropriate forum to raise them and I don’t intend to get involved in any discussions about local issues.
      Regards
      Tom Sherrington , from HTRT.

  35. Peter Brown June 4, 2013 at 9:54 pm Reply

    I am pleased to see that a group like this is emerging to challenge the damaging agenda that is driving education at this time.

  36. James Underwood June 5, 2013 at 7:37 am Reply

    I think you have mis-understood my earlier message. All questions will be focused on your work at ‘headteachers’ roundtable’, not on local union issues. My comment is clearly a request for union members to do exactly as you suggest. I hope you also understand that the unions are and always have been deeply involved in policy debates, including curriculum debates and would in fact welcome union officers being present at such a discussion. James Underwood NASUWT / TUC

  37. FT June 11, 2013 at 6:32 am Reply

    Hello! Great initiative! Was just wondering whether the gender distribution in your group and website photo is representative of the headteacher population in this country…

    • headteachersroundtable June 11, 2013 at 9:07 am Reply

      No it isn’t! However, at all the conferences, meetings and events, there is very good representation. It will change over time….

  38. Lisa Boggis September 8, 2013 at 9:54 am Reply

    I’m a new Assistant Headteacher of a secondary school and love what you are doing here. Please let me know more!

    • headteachersroundtable September 22, 2013 at 8:16 pm Reply

      We have a conference at Glyn School in Epsom on October 16th on Accountability. We’ll be publicising that shortly.

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