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Where are they now? – Brooke Weston Trust Leadership Academy

Our Leadership Academy programme is a unique opportunity only available to Brooke Weston Trust (BWT) staff. The first of its kind in the country, it’s a commitment to developing the skills of our colleagues enabling them to become successful future leaders.

The programme helps participants to plan a successful career within the rapidly developing multi-academy trust systems and structures and the emerging structures which will exist in the next ten years.

In this article, we’re proud to share just a few of the achievements of our first cohorts of the Leadership Academy and the difference they feel the programme has made in their career.

Liam Benner

Prior to embarking on the BWT Leadership Academy Programme, Liam Benner was a Year 6 teacher who had experienced a few different middle leadership opportunities. Now he’s taken on the role of Assistant Principal at Beanfield Primary School. Speaking about his experience, Liam said: “Throughout my time on the course, I was able to reflect on my own leadership style and really get to grips with the type of leader I wanted to become. The various roles I've subsequently held as Year Lead, Subject Lead and now as an Assistant Principal have given me the opportunity to put into place the theory I learned.

“The biggest takeaway for me was the reflective psychometric testing, which outlined my strengths but also my areas to develop. During the sessions, I focused on what I could take away from the different speakers in order to improve my own leadership style, which has now led me to become the leader I am today.”

Julia Dickinson

When Julia Dickinson started out on her Leadership Academy journey in September 2018 it was because she was convinced she did not want to make the step up from Vice Principal to Principal and was keen to explore leadership development opportunities beyond the traditional NPQH route. She said: “At the end of my interview with Mike from Pentir Talent Solutions he said that whilst he understood my reasoning for not wanting to take on a headship, not to completely take the idea off the table and that must've resonated in me somewhere as here I am, nearly five years later, just having finished my first six months as the Principal of Gretton Primary.

“What the Leadership Academy gave me, through listening to leaders from a broad range of sectors and organisations and through some personal reflection on those areas where I lacked self-assurance, was the encouragement to challenge the conventional, to look at those areas for development not as weaknesses but as opportunities to explore and to confront my preconceptions of what I am capable of doing.”

“Taking what I learned from the programme and applying that in my role at the time, and seeing some positive impact, gave me the confidence to back myself, to take risks and to think outside the box when facing challenges. That in turn gave me the confidence when the headship at Gretton was offered to me, not to focus on the worries and anxieties such a move naturally provoked in me but to grab the opportunity with both hands and to spread my wings.”

Kerry Prior

When Kerry Prior, Vice Principal at Corby Business Academy, became a participant in the first BWT Leadership Academy cohort she had recently moved from a middle departmental leadership into a Trust subject leadership role. She said: “The Leadership Academy has had a huge impact on my development as a leader. The input from such interesting and varied speakers allowed me to see my role in a different way. I felt able to bridge the gap between operational leadership and strategic and that influential leadership needed to have a greater impact. The psychometric and interview feedback helped me to refine the next steps in my career and I was successful in securing an Assistant Principal role within the next year and Senior Assistant Principal role later in the same year.

“Since then, I have progressed further now in my third year as Vice Principal at CBA in the Trust and thoroughly enjoy the role. Whilst the shadowing opportunities were limited due to covid restrictions, the networking and collaboration opportunities have been so supportive and enriching for my continued development as a leader. The fantastic people I got to meet and work with continue to inspire and encourage me making me feel like the somewhat scary step into Headship might just be possible for me one day.”

Adelle Northern

Adelle Northern has no doubt that the BWT Leadership Academy programme and the opportunities provided supported her in being appointed as Assistant Principal at Brooke Weston Academy. She said: “The BWT Leadership Academy programme provided the opportunity to reflect upon my practice as a leader and to develop and refine my leadership skills over time whilst providing the unique and excellent opportunity to hear from a range of leaders across multiple contexts. The programme is truly unique and provided an opportunity for me to uncover and reflect upon the key values that defined me as a leader.

“The programme was carefully crafted to enable me to do this and provided the chance to work with a trusted community of colleagues. From providing an opportunity to engage with psychometric testing to engaging in a secondment shadow placement for an aspirational leadership role, this programme supported me to develop a greater sense of 'self'.  The Leadership Academy is a truly distinctive and excellent prospect for all leaders and one that I would highly recommend.”

Grace Horne

When Grace Horne applied to be part of the first cohort of the Leadership Academy she was the Head of Maths at Kettering Science Academy, having previously had experience of pastoral care as Head of Year. She said: “The sessions throughout the experience allowed me to develop connections with staff at differing levels and contexts, enabling me to see the vast and complex nature of school leadership. The psychometric testing and mock interviews were extremely informative allowing me to identify my areas for development and make a conscious effort to address these in my day-to-day leadership role.

“The experience I gained during my placement at Corby Technical School specifically looking at quality assurance of teaching and learning, allowed me to experience first-hand the expectations around being a senior leader and was invaluable in my securing a secondment to SLT in my own school. I am now Assistant Principal overseeing early careers teachers, whole school literacy and numeracy as well as line managing the maths department. I have no doubt that the experiences and skills I learnt through taking part in the programme have shaped my journey as a leader. Now as part of the Leadership Academy Steering Group I am proud to be part of shaping the programme for new and aspiring leaders within the Trust.”

To find out more about the BWT Leadership Academy and how to apply for future cohorts, please visit:

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