A Challenge Adviser’s View

I first became a challenge adviser in September 2014, seconded from my headteacher role into what seemed like a completely new world. Clearly, the aims of the consortium and the aims of a school are the same...to improve standards and educational outcomes for all learners.

I’ll admit that at first, I found the transition between the two roles quite difficult. I was no longer responsible for 440 pupils and 40 staff and relinquishing that responsibility was hard.

However, I quickly established some wonderful professional relationships with key stakeholders in my schools and I now feel a collective responsibility for 16 schools worth of pupils and staff! I live through their inspections with them; I feel their “building maintenance” pain; I am extremely proud of their successes.

In terms of my own development, I have learnt so much. Even when working alongside our red and amber schools, there is always something worthwhile to take away. During the first two years in this role, I returned to school on a weekly basis, always with something new up my sleeve. I can honestly say that the practice in my school has improved as a result of what I’ve learned from my colleagues across the region.

There are aspects of the role which not only challenge the senior leaders I work with but they also challenge me. Engaging with the headteacher and governing body to evaluate the impact of their leadership and governance on outcomes and to judge the capacity of the school to improve, can be fraught with difficulties. Schools are rightly defensive when the quality of what they are doing is questioned.

However, I have found that nearly all headteachers and governing bodies are eager to improve and are receptive to the support we provide. Engaging in professional dialogue and working alongside committed colleagues who really want the very best for the pupils in their care is very rewarding. I enjoy working as part of their team, sharing solutions, generating ideas and innovative approaches and improving the consistency and quality of what we do in our schools. I think I’ve found that this new world is a place that motivates and inspires me to have a positive impact on school improvement and I hope I am contributing to the difference we are making for the pupils in our very successful region.

For more information on how the Central South Consortium can support your school, please see the About Us section of our website, speak to your school's challenge adviser or contact communications@cscjes.org.uk if you have any queries.

Sue O'Halloran

Sue O'Halloran

Challenge Adviser at Central South Consortium
Sue O'Halloran

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