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The School Leadership Podcast

The School Leadership Podcast

By theleadershippodcast
Director of Policy at NAHT and NAHT Edge Director, James Bowen interviews the leading voices in education covering the topics at the heart of leadership and learning.
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Speech and language therapy in covid times
In this episode, you'll hear two perspectives on children's speech and language. Speech and language therapist Anna Sellers, who works with children in schools, and Derek Munn, director of policy and public affairs at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, talk about the impact of the pandemic – both negative and positive – on services for young people. They also share their thoughts on what school leaders can do to help tackle the challenges that lie ahead around speech and language support in schools. Find out more about the work of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists: 
June 14, 2021
Swimming and schools with Olympic medalist Steve Parry
Former Olympic swimmer Steve Parry is the co-founder of Total Swimming Academies and believes every child should have the opportunity to learn and enjoy swimming. Recent figures show a worrying number of children leaving primary school not knowing how to swim. Steve outlines Total Swimming Academies' campaign to invest in school facilities to ensure school pools remain viable while helping to maximise their value to the surrounding community. Find out more about Total Swimming Academies and the £1million School Pool Legacy Fund to improve school pool facilities:
May 4, 2021
Football Beyond Borders
Football Beyond Borders is an education and social inclusion charity which transforms the outcomes for disadvantaged young people who are passionate about football but disengaged at school. In this episode, James Bowen speaks to co-founder and director, Jack Reynolds about the work the charity is doing with supporting young people’s academic and social and emotional learning as they transition to adulthood.
April 12, 2021
Mental health, well-being and school leadership: tips and tools in covid times
After a year that has seen school leaders “carrying the community” as they steer schools through the pandemic, Sinéad Mc Brearty, CEO of Education Support, speaks with NAHT’s James Bowen about the importance of compassion, connection and showing up in your best shape. Education Support is a UK charity dedicated to supporting the mental health and well-being of education staff.
March 10, 2021
Championing equality, diversity and inclusion in schools
Closing gaps, inclusivity and redressing imbalance wherever it may be is at the very core of the Global Equality Collective (GEC). Co-CEO and founder of the GEC, Nic Ponsford talks to James Bowen about the new GEC app which helps organisations track, monitor and embed diversity and inclusion into their day-to-day practices and behaviours. Nic discusses the core functions of the app and the work being done in schools to champion equality and inclusion.
February 10, 2021
From little acorns mighty oak trees grow
Oak National Academy is the online classroom made for teachers by teachers. Created in April 2020 as a rapid response to the coronavirus outbreak, Oak Academy offers pre-recorded video lessons as well as quizzes, worksheets and creative activities to support remote learning. In this episode, principal at Oak National Academy, Matt Hood talks about how the online classroom came about, the important role remote learning has played throughout this year and considers what remote learning might look like post-pandemic.
December 8, 2020
Lockdown, learning and the great outdoors
One of the unavoidable effects of the pandemic has meant that we have been forced to almost renegotiate our relationship with outdoor spaces. For leaders, it's meant careful management of school grounds and for some children outside of school, lockdowns have resulted in a new dynamic where access to the great outdoors has either been severely limited or denied altogether.  Jim Whittaker, chair of the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres, talks to James Bowen about health, well-being, learning and the importance of outdoor spaces. 
November 19, 2020
What does effective remote learning look like?
When the national lockdown took place earlier this year, many schools quickly turned to technology to bridge the gap and continue learning outside of the school gates. In this episode, director of NAHT policy, James Bowen speaks to author, public speaker and managing director of NetSupport, Al Kingsley about the future of technology to support learning. We also consider the challenges blended and remote learning can cause, including addressing the digital divide and ensuring students are safe online.  
October 21, 2020
Reducing academic anxiety and supporting young people’s mental health
Campaigner, activist and speaker; Natasha Devon MBE talks to James Bowen about the relationship between exam stress and mental health in children and young people. Natasha also talks about the impact the pandemic and lockdown have had on young people’s anxiety levels.
September 15, 2020
Planning for a full return to school this September – James Bowen answers your FAQs
The past few months have been a rapidly changing picture for schools which hasn’t always been easy to interpret and then act on. It’s been our aim all along to bring as much clarity to school leaders as possible. In this month’s podcast episode, director of policy and NAHT Edge, James Bowen answers your most frequently asked questions about planning for a full return to school this September.
July 27, 2020
Schools and covid-19: your questions answered with Dr Matt Butler
How can we minimise infection in schools and in the wider community? How can we protect the most at-risk groups? Should staff be wearing PPE? How often should surfaces be wiped down in classrooms? Dr Matt Butler answers your most pressing questions about the covid-19 pandemic and outlines some practical steps you can take to keep staff and children safe.
June 16, 2020
Technology in the classroom: a tool for learning or an enormous distraction?
In this episode, NAHT head of policy James Bowen talks to education author and former teacher Daisy Christodoulou about technology in schools. We consider what the next big ed-tech development is likely to be, whether we should ban mobile devices in schools and why ed-tech hasn’t yet had the transformative impact on education that it has long promised.
March 3, 2020
Episode 28 - Social mobility with Professor Sonia Blandford
Professor Sonia Blandford is one of the country's foremost experts on improving the education and aspirations of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

 She is the founder and CEO of the award winning educational charity Achievement for All, which provides programmes to improve outcomes for children and young people aged two to 19 years. She is also a visiting professor of education and social enterprise at UCL Institute of Education and the author of numerous books on education. Edge Director, James Bowen spent some time with Sonia to see if it's possible to change attitudes and outcomes around this perennial challenge.
January 15, 2020
Episode 27 - Reconsidering resilience and its role in school leadership.
We hear from Andy Wolfe, deputy chief education officer for the Church of England, about why it’s time to rethink resilience and what it means for school leaders. Andy oversees leadership development through the Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership.
December 13, 2019
Episode 26 - What can we expect from the new inspection framework? (Part 2)
It's the much awaited second part of our chart with Matthew Purves from Ofsted. Matthew gets into the specifics of what the new framework means for schools and what they'll be expecting of subject leaders. There's also an illuminating conversation with Julie Kelly, the Headteacher at West Meon Church of England Primary School on what it's really like to run a small school. With 60% of teachers in small schools leading three or more subjects, what will the implications from the deep dives? To find out more about our work on small schools and the research we've been conducting, please go to
November 28, 2019
Episode 25 - ‘What can we expect from the new inspection framework?’
Deep dives and cultural capital. Ofsted is always an intense talking point and both this and next month, the School Leadership Podcast will keep you fully up to speed with what's expected and any new protocols. Earlier this term we saw the launch of an entirely new inspection framework and NAHT members have already begun to experience these new style inspections. Already we have seen teachers and school leaders taking to social media to share their early experiences and debate some of the phrases being used within the lexicon of inspection. Our Director of Policy James Bowen met with Ofsted’s deputy director for schools, Matthew Purves and goes further into what you can expect from this latest framework.
October 15, 2019
Episode 24 - Graham Frost and Lord Redesdale
This month, we’re talking about climate change and how schools are supporting their pupils to take an active interest in one of the most pressing issues facing the world today. Our guests are a Headteacher and NAHT member whose school has already started taking action to reduce its own carbon footprint, and from a member of the house of lords who is leading a campaign encouraging schools and pupils to pledge to take their own action to tackle climate change.
September 16, 2019
Episode 23 - The Difference
School exclusions is an issue right at the top of the government’s agenda currently, and it’s no wonder why. After a period of steady decline in the number of pupils being excluded from school, in recent years we have begun to see a worrying reversal in that trend. The government’s own data suggests the rate of exclusions is rising to almost 7,000 a year in England, the equivalent of more than 35 permanent exclusions every school day. Rising rates of exclusion not only have a significant impact on the individuals and schools concerned, but it also has a long-term impact on society too. Research has shown that every cohort of permanently excluded pupils will go on to cost the state an extra £2.1billion in education, health, benefits and criminal justice costs. A new education charity, The Difference, founded by former teacher Kiran Gill is determined to do something about this alarming trend. Through their 2 year ‘Difference Leader’ programme, the charity offers existing leaders in mainstream schools the opportunity to work for two years in an Alternative Provision setting. Throughout the programme leaders benefit not only from gaining experience in AP but also from an intensive accredited training programme. Their hope is that some of this new community of leaders will then return to mainstream schools so that they can share and cascade their knowledge with the ultimate aim of reducing school exclusion. Our Director of Policy and NAHT Edge Director, James Bowen, meets with Kiran and her colleague Shaun Brown to find out more about the charity’s work and the impact it has.
July 16, 2019
Episode 22 - Winston's Wish
We discuss a difficult, but vitally important topic – childhood bereavement. Shockingly, around 1 in 29 children will be bereaved of a parent or sibling during their time at school and of course many more will experience bereavement of other family members or friends. Yet, if you’re like most other teachers and school leaders, you have probably received very little, if any, training on this sensitive topic. Our guest this month is Emma Muirhead from the charity Winston’s Wish.
May 26, 2019
Episode 21 - David Weston : Attaining the highest quality CPD in schools
How effective is the professional development in your school? Are you confident that the CPD your teachers are engaging in is having a positive impact on outcomes for pupils? In this episode we talk about the professional learning of teachers, and consider what school leaders can do to ensure that CPD in their school is of the highest quality. David Weston is the founder and Chief Executive of the Teacher Development Trust and one of the authors of ‘Unleashing Great Teaching’ – a new book that shines a light on the secrets of effective teacher development.
May 4, 2019
Episode 20 - H is for Harry - Edward Owles, Jamie Taylor and Ed Vainker
As a profession, we've become accustomed to seeing school leaders, teachers and pupils becoming unexpected stars of the small screen. Documentaries like Educating Essex and Educating Manchester have proven to be unexpected ratings winners and have given viewers an insight into modern-day schooling along the way. You'll get to hear about one particular school community in London that may just be about to find itself becoming the star of the big screen, as we speak to the makers of a new film, ‘H is for Harry’. H is for Harry is a coming of age story about Harry, a charismatic 11-year old boy who arrives at secondary school in suburban London unable to read or write. With the help of Sophie, his extremely dedicated teacher, and the unfailing support of his father, he struggles to overcome the illiteracy ingrained across generations of his family. James Bowen, Edge Director, has an enlightening conversation with the film's co Directors and the Headteacher of the school where the film was made.
March 4, 2019
Episode 19 - The Shared Headship Network
The Shared Headship network is run by a group of committed school leaders who aspire to be head teachers one day in the future. Their aim is straightforward: to support and encourage more school leaders to consider the idea of shared school leadership. James Bowen, the Edge Director got some time with two of the leaders behind this exciting project to find out more about their work. Lucy Helan is the co-founder of the network and an Assistant Vice-Principal in London. Amy Brookes is an Assistant Principal, also based in London. There's also a chance to hear from the co - Headteachers of a Junior school on Hayling Island.
February 5, 2019
Episode 18 - Panel debate, Edtech Festival.
Earlier this year, Edge Director James Bowen joined a panel at the inaugural Edtech Podcast festival in London to discuss the vital issue of teacher workload. In this month’s podcast you will get to hear that debate in full. As you will hear, James is joined on the panel by journalist and founder of Teacher Tapp, Laura McInerney; Ross Morrison McGill, better known to some by his Twitter handle, Teacher Toolkit; and also Rory McGrath, Deputy Head for the New Wave Federation.
November 27, 2018
Episode 17 - Rob Webster
Rob Webster is this months guest and is an Associate Professor at the UCL Institute of Education. Rob has worked on a number of research projects focusing on the use and impact of teaching assistants, including the ground-breaking Deployment and Impact of Support Staff project and its follow-up study, the Effective Deployment of TAs project. He is also the author of two acclaimed books on the same topic. Edge Director, James Bowen spoke with Rob to find out more about his work and the implications for schools
October 27, 2018
Episode 16 - Laura Mcinnerney, Becky Allen and Fiona Millar
Once again this year we will bring you influential and interesting guests from the world of education. Whether it’s leadership experts, subject specialists, policy makers or education commentators, we hope you will continue to find the podcast both engaging and thought provoking. We start the year with a special double episode. In the first half we’ll hear about an exciting new project that is aiming to gain insights into the lives of teachers through the use of a smartphone app. And in the second half we speak to journalist and school governor Fiona Millar about her new book, which examines how the 1988 education reform act fundamentally transformed the school system.
September 11, 2018
Episode 15 - Dr Jill Berry and the characteristics of effective middle leaders.
Jill is the former Head of Dame Alice Harpur School in Bedford.  Since leaving headship in 2010, she has worked as an Associate for the National College for Teaching and Leadership, carried out a range of educational consultancy work, and completed a part-time Doctorate in Education. In her new book, ‘Making the Leap: Moving from Deputy to Head’, Jill offers practical advice on how to take the ultimate step in school leadership. James talks to Jill and in an extensive two part interview picks up some fascinating observations and pointers.
July 20, 2018
Episode 13 - Speakers for Schools : Jimmy Wales, Fiona Miller and Ashley Hodges
This month, our podcast is brought to you in partnership with our friends at ‘Speakers for Schools’ and in this episode we’ll speak with some very interesting and high profile guests who work closely with the charity. You'll hear from Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, writer, journalist and campaigner Fiona Millar and the Executive Director of Speakers for Schools, Ashley Hodges. NAHT is a professional association and union for schools leaders. NAHT Edge is the part of our association aimed specifically at aspirational middle leaders. To discover more about the benefits of being an NAHT Edge or NAHT member, go online to or You can follow us on Twitter @NAHTEdge and @NAHTnews.
June 21, 2018
Episode 14 - Professor Sonia Blandford; closing the attainment gap, the importance of Early Years and self-belief.
Our guest is Professor Sonia Blandford. Sonia is the Chief Executive of education charity Achievement for All and the author of the book, ‘Born to Fail’. No-one in the UK is better placed than Sonia Blandford to write about the experience of working class pupils in our schools. She grew up on the Allied Estate in Hounslow and was the first member of her family to pursue education beyond the age of 14 and was also the first to attend university. She is responsible for setting up the award-winning Achievement for All organisation, which has worked with thousands of schools to help close the attainment gap. Her new book, Born to Fail tackles head-on issues such as how and why education has often failed to deliver for disadvantaged pupils; the importance of self-belief, action and confidence; and how the Early Years is the crucial time to build success from the start.
June 21, 2018
Episode 12 - High challenge / Low threat - Mary Myatt.
Education adviser, writer and speaker - that's Mary Myatt. Hear Mary talk fluidly about high challenge / low threat, the often difficult subject of underperformance and the core message of her book. She'll be in conversation with NAHT Edge Director James Bowen We are also running our member referral scheme over Easter. Listen in for a great way to bolster resources in your school and how it's possible to pick up a free place on one of our CPD courses.
March 28, 2018
Feb 2018 - a Leadership Podcast update
A quick steer on what you can expect from the podcast very soon; thanks for subscribing!
February 26, 2018
Episode 11 - From Ofsted to teacher workload : In conversation with Dr Becky Allen.
This year in the podcast, we are looking forward to bringing you some of the most influential and interesting voices from the world of education, and this first episode is no exception. Our special guest this month is Dr Becky Allen. Becky is well known to many school leaders and teachers through her work at Education Datalab. In this interview our Edge director, James Bowen, covers a range of topics with Becky ranging from Ofsted to teacher workload. At the end of last year Becky announced she would be leaving Education Datalab to move onto a new role at the Institute of Education; we find out more.
January 21, 2018
Episode 10 - The Chartered College of Teaching at a year old
In this podcast we hear from Dame Alison Peacock on how the Chartered College of Teaching as it comes up for its one year anniversary. Edge director James Bowen caught up with Alison to find out how things had moved on for the organisation over the last 12 months and to find out whether her early ambitions for the College had been realised. You'll also hear some insight from the NAHT's new General Secretary Paul Whiteman.
December 4, 2017
Episode 9 - Effective literacy training and a school funding update
In this first podcast of the new school year we discuss effective literacy teaching, and find out what the evidence really tells us about this crucial topic. We also have a funding update following the Secretary of State’s announcement of additional money for schools earlier this summer. Earlier this year the Education Endowment Foundation released two reports highlighting a range of practical, evidenced-based recommendations for the teaching of literacy in primary schools. NAHT Edge Edge director James Bowen spoke with Sir Kevan Collins and Tom Martell from the EEF and Rosendale Primary School Headteacher, Kate Atkins to find out more about the key messages form the reports.
September 13, 2017
Episode 8 - In partnership with Ambition School Leadership
In this episode we focus on the crucial role middle leaders play in school improvement. We hear from a panel of middle leaders who reflect on what they most enjoy about their role, the challenges they face and what advice they would offer to others. We also have an interview with a leading thinker on school leadership, Andy Buck, who offers his advice on how middle leaders can make a real difference in their schools.
June 26, 2017
Episode 7 - Maths mastery and fluency and data protection - what schools need to know.
This month’s podcast is a maths special. We’ll get to grips with big ideas such as mastery and fluency, and also discuss the government’s proposed times tables checks for primary-aged pupils. There's also a look at your obligations to data protection, how that's changing and the best way to stay compliant. Professor Mike Askew is our special guest Mike has worked in education for almost 40 years. He has taught at all levels, including teacher professional development, and led research projects throughout the world. He has written numerous books and articles on the subject of maths teaching. Edge director James Bowen chats with Mike.
April 25, 2017
Episode 6 - Nicky Morgan and Ambition School Leadership
Nicky Morgan was the secretary of state for education up until July of last year. In this episode we ask her what it’s really like to be the minister in charge of education, what she feels was her most significant achievement and whether she has any regrets about her time in office. We also hear from James Toop, the CEO of education charity ‘Ambition School Leadership’ about how they are supporting leadership development in schools.
March 16, 2017
Episode 4 - Daisy Christodoulou and an Early Years update
Hello and Happy New Year. Welcome to the latest school leadership podcast brought to you by NAHT Edge and NAHT. In this first episode of 2017 we find out more about Comparative Judgement, an alternative way of assessing pupils’ writing and ask whether it could form part of a long-term solution when it comes to primary assessment. We also have an Early Years update for you from the NAHT team with some positive news on funding.
February 9, 2017
Episode 5 - The new Head of Ofsted
Amanda Spielman succeeded Sir Michael Wilshaw as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector at the start of the year. Prior to becoming the new Ofsted chief, Amanda was chair of Ofqual and she was also a founding member of the leadership team at Ark Schools. NAHT Edge director, James Bowen, met with Amanda at the Ofsted Headquarters in central London.
February 9, 2017
Episode 3 - Fair Education Alliance, CPD, Progress 8 and Ebacc
It's a very Merry Christmas from us here at NAHT and NAHT Edge, we're joined by Lewis Iwu, Director of the Fair Education Alliance. Lewis tells James Bowen about work being done to address the achievement gap and the role of character education in schools. NAHT Policy Adviser Sarah Hannafin picks over the impact being felt by Progress 8 and Ebacc. You'll also hear some great news about our collaboration with Focus Education and get a chance to book on some fine courses for middle leaders. Join all that up with details on our assessment in practice course and you have the trailblazing Leadership Podcast.
February 9, 2017
Episode 2 - The English Special with Pie Corbett
James Bowen hears from author, former Head teacher and Ofsted inspector Pie to get his views on the current English primary curriculum. Find out what he would do if he were Secretary of State for Education. Pie is one of the leading experts in the field of English and there's some superb insight in this month's podcast. Also, the roundtable discussion picks over our current assessment campaign with NAHT Edge Director James Bowen, NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby and Director of Representation and Advice Paul Whiteman. You'll get the latest news on our next conference for aspiring Heads in both London and Manchester and details on how to join either NAHT or NAHT Edge.
February 9, 2017
Episode 1 - Professor Dame Alison Peacock
James Bowen, Director of NAHT Edge helps to launch this brand new, sector - leading podcast with an exclusive chat with the newly appointed CEO of the Chartered College of Teaching. Alison speaks candidly about what motivates her, the events in the past that helped to shape her opinions and the future direction of the college. Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the NAHT and Valentine Mulholland, Head of Policy pick over the proposals for grammar schools in our regular roundtable discussion and there's news of our next conference on special schools, specialist and alternative provision conference.
February 9, 2017