Talking Heads Blog #21: Patsy Kane

Leadership Biography

Name: Patsy Kane

Phase: Secondary 11-18

Sector: Co-operative Multi-academy Trust

Region: North west

Leadership Journey: 8 years in Sheffield teaching English and German, 21/2 years as deputy head for Finance, Resources and Community in Grimsby, 17 years as deputy head in Manchester,(including two maternity leaves, a year’s sabbatical in California, 2 terms as 14-19 Adviser for Manchester, 4 terms as Transforming Learning Lead for Manchester’s BSF programme), seven years as headteacher and now three years as Executive Head.

Years served in education: 36

Years served as a headteacher: 10

Leadership Coach/Mentor/Inspiration: Steve Munby, Malcolm Trobe, Sian Carr, many other heads

Twitter handle: @PatsyKaneEHT

Leadership Reflections

Why did you become a leader?

I have always enjoyed having a holistic view of learning and developing young people. As a head you are incredibly accountable but you also have the opportunity to really shape a school and its ethos so young people can thrive and flourish. Your ability to influence other staff and students is key to this.

Why did your school appeal to you?

Whalley Range 11-18 High School is a very diverse all-girls school in Manchester, my home city. I have worked for years to promote equal opportunities and to encourage girls to be ambitious and be great leaders. I had never worked in an all-girls school and loved the opportunity to work in one at that stage in my career.

How do you spot/nurture aspiring leaders?

We take this responsibility very seriously and are quite systematic about our approach. We have built a culture where staff can be proactive about their own growth and development. We run “Aspiring to TLR” courses as well as “New to TLR courses” and a range of middle leader courses. We want anyone who is interested to be able to build their skill set and undertake a research or development project that means they have to influence other colleagues or take responsibility for improving an aspect of practice and then asking colleagues to present their findings and reflect on the skills they have learned.

We are now also focusing on growing the skills and experience of our senior leaders so they are ready for headship. We are planning a wide range of experiences they can do with support, such as conduct an investigation, so they aren’t faced with doing that for the first time as a new head. We are looking to grow opportunities by offering secondments across our trust schools or cross-trust development projects. It is important they feel strong, confident and ready for their next step.

How would you like to affect change in the system?

I led the Curriculum and Assessment committee on ASCL Council for three years. I wanted to ensure change was managed in a timely fashion so staff could plan and respond in a healthy way. Our views were heard but not always responded to. The intensity of changes such as assessment without levels, changes to the curriculum and examinations at Key Stage 4 and 5 has meant it has created a huge additional workload and possibly contributed to some teachers leaving the profession.  I would like proper planning and genuine consultation before any further changes are made.

What are the values which shape you as a leader?

The co-operative values are a good base for any leader and school. Genuinely feeling every single child does matter and deserves the best learning and high expectations, whatever their background or ability.

What is your vision for education?

Exciting learning, engaged students, positive and confident staff. Students are well prepared for life and know how to manage themselves so they can be happy and healthy.

Leadership Advice

Look after yourself – get plenty of sleep, exercise and eat well. Keep up interests out of school. Then be resilient to face the continuing challenges you will face. Make sure you can trust and rely on your immediate team and they can trust and rely on each other. Hold everyone to account and expect them to be strategic, lead developments and make things happen because you can’t do it all. Build up a network of other heads you can talk to and trust.

Leadership Inspiration

Thrive by Ariana Huffington was really honest and encouraging. The importance of sleep resonated, too.

Leadership Mantra

“We need to focus on what the students need”.






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