Director of Education - up to £106,650
Head of School Improvement - up to £73,341

Welcome, and thank you for your interest in these exciting and pivotal leadership roles.

Gloucestershire is a thriving county which is highly accessible and a special place to live and work. Most children and young people in Gloucestershire already receive a high quality education, in stunning family-friendly surroundings. The majority of our schools and settings are good or outstanding where many pupils do well, get good qualifications, and succeed in life after school.

But this is not true of all children or all parts of the county. We want more schools and settings to become good or outstanding so that more children and young people benefit from a high quality education. We want more pupils to do well at school and in their early year’s provision, especially those who might need extra help such as looked after children or children in complex situations. We want more school leavers to be better prepared to succeed in their next steps. And finally, we want to ensure that we have sufficient and sustainable schools to meet future changes in the county’s population.

That is where you come in…

Through a deeper collaborative approach, with education leaders and wider children’s service partners, our new Director of Education will set the pace to further raise our ambition for children and young people in this great county. As a key member of the senior leadership team in Children’s Services you will be working within a whole system approach to improving outcomes for children, young people and their families across the full range of services.

The story so far…

I want to begin by stating that we are looking to fill these vital roles 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 services 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 Focussed 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 Director of Education and our Head of School Improvement, with the ability to deliver whole system leadership and change.

In either of these roles 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 do 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 Children’s Services as a whole, as well as acting as the champion for education in Gloucestershire, helping to promote and build collaborative relationships.

Why should you join us?

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.

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

To sum up, we are looking for leaders who can:

  • evidence authority and credibility within the education sector with the ability to inspire and lead 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
  • 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
  • articulate the strong moral purpose that drives you to achieve for children, families and communities

If you are interested in joining us and are inspired to help 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 either of these opportunities. Contact and application details can be found below...

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

Resourcing Solutions poses questions to Chris Spencer about the opportunities via video link. The technology and connection just about held up, watch his response here...

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.

About the roles

Our focus as a Council must be on making life better for our most vulnerable children. We own this responsibility as well share it across other public sector partners in Gloucestershire.

Through a deeply collaborative approach and whole-system leadership, you will lead in sustaining positive relationships with educational providers and be responsible for our response to the strategic commissioning agenda, including aligning with health and social care.

The Director of Education will be accountable to the Director of Children’s Services and the Improvement Board for the strategic leadership and delivery of key aspects of the Gloucestershire Children’s Services Improvement plan. The plan seeks to ensure that the Council and its partners deliver better services, which measurably improve the lives of children and the families in Gloucestershire with a key focus on ensuring a positive impact for those children most in need of protection and care.

You will ensure the achievement of the Council’s strategic and service outcomes through an effective, efficient and high performing delivery service, which operates in an increasingly traded model. Your strong moral purpose ensures your approach is child-focussed and your rigour ensures effective delivery, at pace.

Key documents

The primary remit for this role is to drive education standards through the delivery of school improvement services to schools across the county. You will deliver services that are 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 service.

The post holder will be a key member of the Education Services leadership team and we are looking for someone who will be a strong corporate player; to look beyond specific professional areas of education and for the good of the Council and its communities.

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

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.
To be successful in this role you will have a strong track 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.

Key documents

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...

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.

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.

Key documents

Contact us and apply

Key dates

  • Closing date: Sunday 10 January 2021
  • Assessment and interview dates: to be confirmed

Contact us

For an informal confidential discussion about these opportunities, please contact either Penny Keatings on 07811 411462 / Penny.Keatings@northyorks.gov.uk or Glen Hunt on 07967 469759 / Glen.Hunt@northyorks.gov.uk from our recruitment partners - The Resourcing Solution.

Apply

To apply please send your CV including a personal statement in one Microsoft Word document, stating clearly which role or roles you wish to be considered for, to Penny Keatings at Penny.Keatings@northyorks.gov.uk by 4pm on Sunday 10 January 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.

These roles will be subject to an Enhanced DBS check, together with any other pre-employment checks that are applicable to the respective roles. The Director of Education is a Politically Restricted Role.

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.

Your privacy

Gloucestershire County Council is committed to protecting your privacy when you use our services. Please refer to our Privacy Statement which explains how we use information about you and how we protect your privacy.