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HEAD OF SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT - up to £83k plus relocation support

Welcome, and thank you for your interest in this exciting and pivotal leadership role.

Gloucestershire is a thriving county and a special place to live and work.

Our ambition for education continues to drive us. Most children in Gloucestershire already receive a high quality education, in stunning, family-friendly surroundings.

But this is not true of all our children or all parts of the county. We want more schools to become good or outstanding, so more children benefit from high quality education and are properly prepared to succeed in their next steps, especially those who might need extra help, such as looked-after children or children in complex situations.

This is where you come in, if you are a credible and successful leader in education who shares our ambition for children and families.

The school improvement service is transitioning from a historically traditional approach to a more collaborative, commercial and targeted model underpinned by rigorous research, quality assurance and robust, timely and agile service delivery. What an exciting time to join us!

Picture of Chris Spencer, Director of Children’s Services, Gloucestershire County Council.

The story so far…

I want to begin by stating that we are looking to fill this vital role at a very critical time for us.

Education in Gloucestershire is comparable to similar local authorities, with services that are broadly performing well, but we aspire to become one of the best in the field and we have a stable and talented Education Service team, that is well respected, to help us realise that ambition.

Our wider Children’s Services are on an important journey of change and improvement and, whilst there is more to be done, we are building on significant investment and clear signs of improvement which have been set out in the Ofsted letter following our recent Focused Visit. It is a great time to join us.

We have faced some real challenges over the last few years, but we have now turned the corner. The strengthened Children’s Services leadership team is recently formed and is ambitious for our children and young people. It is not just me who thinks things are changing and that the trajectory is now on an upwards trend. This view is reinforced by the recent Ofsted visit in October 2020: "Since February, partly as a result of improvement action taken earlier by senior leaders finally coming to fruition, there has been a change of tempo..., ...much of it is now more purposeful, more rigorous, more child-focused and more clearly sighted on impact and effectiveness...".

Lasting improvement will only be sustained by ensuring that we also have the most talented and enthusiastic leaders across Children’s Services including our Head of School Improvement, with the ability to deliver whole system leadership and change.

In this role you will inspire others with your ambition, courage and determination; playing a key role at this moment in time offers a unique opportunity to build your professional legacy.

What we need...

Whilst there is genuine room for optimism in Children’s Services, I am also realistic.

Education in Gloucestershire has a solid reputation already, with schools generally above the national average but with wide variations in performance and with a gap between the general school population and those children from more challenging backgrounds, which is too wide compared to other similar local authorities. We are consequently looking for people who fully comprehend the challenges we face and are proactive in bringing about the changes needed to become one of the best local authorities in the country. We require leaders with an appetite for change, to modernise our approach and strengthen partnerships, both internally and externally.

With considerable credibility and authority within the education sector, you will already be a strategic leader with energy, ambition and gravitas. You will be charged with helping to integrate teams across Education and wider Children’s Services as a whole, as well as acting as the champion for education in Gloucestershire, helping to promote and build collaborative relationships.

Education is the most important gift we can give to our children, our greatest liberator and the only sure route out of poverty. This authority is resolute in its commitment to better lives for children, families and communities.

Overall we are a high-performing council, with well-managed resources and finances and strong political support. We have invested heavily in Children’s Services over the last few years and will continue to do so to sustain the momentum of improvement. Our senior leadership team is energised and committed, and change is underway. Finally, our relationships with schools are also better than ever, so we are well poised to build further on this and improve the way we work together.

Thank you for your interest, we look forward to receiving your application.

Chris Spencer, Director of Children’s Services, Gloucestershire County Council

Picture of Kirsten Harrison, Director of Education, Gloucestershire County CouncilAbout the role - from Kirsten Harrison, new Director of Education

Role: Head of School Improvement
Salary: £66,114 to £73,341 plus up to £10k market supplement payment, plus relocation support

As the newly appointed Director of Education, I am excited about appointing to this vital role and, together, the difference we can make at this crucial stage in our history.

The school improvement service is transitioning from a historically traditional approach to a more collaborative, commercial and targeted model underpinned by rigorous research, quality assurance and robust, timely and agile service delivery. What an exciting time to join us!

If you have successfully led a school improvement journey and have experienced the complexity of delivering successful teaching and learning to all children, inclusive of those who are disadvantaged, improving their outcomes and life chances, then this is an opportunity to support and challenge others to achieve the same and to develop your professional legacy across Gloucestershire.

The primary remit for this role is to drive education standards through the delivery of school improvement services to schools across the county. This will be achieved through the development and embedding of collaborative working with school leaders and through the delivery of services that are proactive, well-regarded, solution-focussed, agile, innovative, and delivered with pace and rigour. This agenda is about ensuring better outcomes for all children through the delivery of excellence in our school improvement services.

Under your leadership, education services will:

  • support schools in developing and delivering innovative and ever changing education to meet modern day challenges;
  • provide meaningful support and credible challenge before, during and after school assessments;
  • be at the forefront of national and regional education developments and lead responsive, innovative and effective solutions; and
  • provide timely communication, advice and credible solutions to current and future education imperatives.

In other words, you and your service will lead the debate, find the solutions, unify our resolve and be visible influential education ambassadors.

The post holder will be a key member of the Education Service leadership team and we are looking for someone who will be a strong corporate player and look beyond specific professional areas of education for the good of the Council and its communities. You understand and can harness multi-agency working. You will be a pivotal member of the school improvement partnerships, representing the local authority. You will be well-networked, building strong relationships with the Regional Schools Commissioner, professional associations and other key stakeholders.

You will embed and further develop this approach, collectively leading us through the next phase of our improvement journey with a relentless focus on sector-led improvement through deeply collaborative partnerships. We have positive and highly valued partnerships with professional associations, members, partners and schools that robustly deliver mutually beneficial outcomes for children and young people.

We have to find ways of improving excellence for every child against the odds and to do this we need a Head of School Improvement with the vision, leadership, commercialism and the drive to meet challenges head on. We need someone who can work successfully with key stakeholders and take them with us to realise our collective aims.

To be successful in this role you will have a strong track record in school improvement, evidenced in your own school, across other schools or through wider school improvement interventions. You will also have experience of senior leadership within schools or education contexts; this enables you to identify and understand the realities, the challenges and the solutions.

You will find that you are well-supported in your decision-making, backed and welcomed by an experienced, respectful and hard-working team, ready for transformation under your leadership.

To sum up, we are looking for a leader who can:

  • evidence credibility within the education sector through recent school leadership experience with the ability to nurture and inspire other school leaders, leading by example;
  • introduce and embrace modern ideas, instigating real and sustainable change;
  • work to create a truly collaborative team environment, with a focus on integration;
  • be outwardly focussed, skilled at building external relationships to help place the needs of Gloucestershire and its schools right at the forefront of partnership working;
  • be a trusted adviser; through rigorous ongoing research, you and your teams are subject matter experts, always ahead of the response to latest developments;
  • be exceptional and timely communicators;
  • use business acumen to develop and deliver effective services and growth in an increasingly traded landscape;
  • recognise these roles as not only a challenge but most importantly, a tremendous professional opportunity; and
  • articulate the strong moral purpose that drives you to achieve for children, families and communities.

If you are interested in joining me lead the next phase of our journey, I look forward to receiving your application. In the meantime, following an initial conversation with our recruitment partner, Resourcing Solutions, I would welcome an informal discussion about your interest in the role. Contact and application details can be found below...

Kirsten Harrison, Director of Education, Gloucestershire County Council

Key documents

Picture of a Gloucestershire village.

About education in Gloucestershire

Education provision across Gloucestershire currently includes around 800 early years settings, around 300 schools (almost one third are academies), 13 special schools (4 of which are sponsored academies), 7 grammar schools, 4 colleges, and 5 alternative provision schools.

The context is complex and one of continued challenges both demographically and geographically, including a diverse population, an increasingly mixed range of schools and settings in all sectors, and increasing financial demands. Multi-Academy Trusts have an increasing presence in the county and there is also a need for a number of new schools over the next few years.

Over the past seven years, the rate of progress of schools in the primary sector from satisfactory / requires improvement to good has increased, mainly due to the strengthening of the arrangements for school intervention.

In the secondary sector, where the vast majority of schools are academies, the profile of Gloucestershire’s secondary schools in Ofsted terms has been more volatile. Although outcomes for children and young people in Gloucestershire are high overall, the high standards of attainment mask several areas of underperformance and low progress for individuals and groups of children and young people. The attainment gap between children with additional needs and their peers is too wide. Whilst the Online Pupil Survey indicates that children and young people are generally happy and feel confident about the future, there are increasing numbers who report that they are worried about the future.

In addition, the rate of exclusion in the county is high and there are children at risk of exclusion or who are being removed from school by their families to be home educated as they feel that school cannot meet their needs.

All of these challenges are set against a backdrop of increasing demand from schools with diminishing resources, school budget constraints and the challenges inherent in the management of small rural schools, whilst responding and recovering from the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

What do we do well?

  • The clarity and consistency of our school improvement model
  • The commitment of our workforce to better outcomes
  • The quality of challenge, intervention and oversight of schools
  • The range of support for teachers and governors
  • Our commitment to continuous professional development
  • The strength of our partnership with schools and other providers
  • The way in which the school improvement model has adapted to maintain the focus on impact

What could we do better?

  • Develop and strengthen our approach to closing the gaps in achievement for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people
  • Increase the number of schools judged to be good or better in the context of a new inspection framework
  • Secure high quality and sustainable external support for schools and through collaboration drive down exclusions

Our Education and Skills strategy outlines that we want:

  • Every Gloucestershire child to have a high quality education, suited to their needs, that equips them with the skills and attributes they need to make a positive contribution to their community and succeed in life
  • Children and young people with high needs to learn and succeed in local schools that understand, respond to, and meet their needs in a flexible way
  • To grow the working-age workforce by keeping and attracting more 18-40 year olds with high level qualifications
  • Gloucestershire’s economy to be driven by a flexible, well-trained workforce who can provide the skills local employers need in a modern, diverse and successful economy

The Council's role in education is evolving. Against a backdrop of increasing independence, school autonomy and the developing role of Regional School Commissioners, the Council has three key roles in education:

  • Making sure that the system works for families - that high quality school places are available in the right location, that meet the aspirations of families and reflect the needs of all children.
  • Improving outcomes for vulnerable children and all those with additional needs.
  • Championing the needs of vulnerable children and young people so that there is an inclusive learning system for all. Increasingly, we achieve this by influencing and working with others, including the leadership of academies, free schools and the Regional Schools Commissioner.

We also know that while Gloucestershire children achieve well overall, this masks the reality for some; in particular, too many children with additional needs experience poor results. We are seeing increasing numbers of children with an Education Health & Care Plan and rising expectations from families. We cannot continue to do things in the same way. We need to change the way that the Council and schools work together to meet the needs of these children.

Looking beyond the role of schools, the economy will provide opportunities for a more flexible, more adaptable workforce, able to develop and acquire new skills. We will need to help forge stronger links between training providers and local employers to make sure we understand what they need, are responsive to emerging trends and can equip the workforce with the tools they need.

Even more challenging is that the county’s working-age population is expected to remain static. There is demand for more people to replace workers retiring from the county’s workforce, and the county loses up to 400 young adults to other parts of the UK each year. We will need to be creative and bold in order to make sure that the county can provide the workforce that will drive economic growth.

Picture of a Gloucestershire street.

About us

The Council has a workforce of around 3,500 people. It is important to us that our staff feel valued, rewarded and have a welcoming and enjoyable place to work in.

Through initiatives like staff engagement surveys, there is a strong focus in the Council on listening to our colleagues, so together we can create an environment where our employees feel happy, engaged and equipped to achieve.

We offer a wide range of benefits as part of our employment packages which include:

  • a defined benefit pension scheme, based on your career average earnings, including the option for additional voluntary contributions.
  • 30 days annual leave per annum (pro-rata for reduced hours) plus public and bank holidays.
  • salary sacrifice green car scheme.
  • salary sacrifice cycle to work scheme.
  • option to take part of your salary in the form of childcare vouchers, free of tax and national insurance.
  • free, confidential, counselling and advice for employees, available 24 hours every day online and by telephone.
  • staff discount scheme offering Council employees access to great savings.

The following values underpin the way we work...

Infographic of Gloucestershire County Council values - Accountability, Integrity, Empowerment, Respect and Excellence.
Picture of a Gloucestershire riverside scene.

Live and work in Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire is a great place to live, work and do business. It is a thriving county with a mix of quintessentially English villages and vibrant market towns where most local people enjoy a high standard of living, and levels of health and wellbeing are comfortably above the average for the country. Generally, local people are well-educated, unemployment is low, communities are safe with low levels of crime and Gloucestershire’s economy is strong and resilient.

Infographic showing some facts and figures about Gloucestershire.

The environment is incredibly varied with a range of different types of landscape, 123 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as nature reserves and other natural assets.

There are dozens of pretty villages in The Cotswolds where you can base yourself and live the rural dream. At the same time, the region is also very accessible and it is easy to travel to Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff and Oxford, as well as London.

Picture of Gloucestershire Cathedral.

Key documents

Contact us and apply

Key dates

  • Closing date: Monday 3 May 2021
  • Interview dates: 13 to 21 May 2021

Contact us

For an informal confidential discussion about this opportunity, please contact either Penny Keatings on 07811 411462 / or Glen Hunt on 07967 469759 / from our recruitment partners - The Resourcing Solution.


To apply please send your CV including a personal statement in one Microsoft Word document to Penny Keatings at by 4pm on 3 May 2021.

It is important that your CV includes: your full contact details (telephone, email, address), full employment history (name of employer, job titles, dates of employment and salary), full education history (qualification, grade, dates and place of study), explanation of any gaps in employment and the contact details of at least two referees including your current / most recent employer indicating whether you consent to us contacting each referee prior to interview.

Your personal statement should outline your motivation for applying and how you meet the criteria for the role.

We welcome applications from candidates from diverse backgrounds and under-represented groups.

The role will be subject to an Enhanced DBS check, together with any other pre-employment checks that are applicable.

We will not accept applications from agencies.

We look forward to receiving your application with interest, if there is anything we can do to support you throughout your application please do let us know, we are keen to ensure you are well supported.

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