At a reception in the Palace of Westminster last night, it was announced that the former Head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, is set to lead St Mary's University's school leadership programme, developing the next cadre of senior leaders, headteachers and Multi-academy trust leaders.
The former Chief Inspector of Schools in England will shortly take up a role as Professor of Education and Director of Multi-Academy Trusts at the University, where he hopes to develop world-class leaders in the education system, able to rise to the challenge of managing groups of schools.
In his new role, Sir Michael will also lead St Mary's work on school improvement, championing high standards in schools across the country and challenging multi-academy trusts to deliver outstanding teaching and care, which meets the needs of every child. Sir Michael will focus initially on working around 200 plus schools in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster, but hopes that the programme will have widespread applicability.
Speaking about the appointment, Vice-Chancellor of St Mary's, Francis Campbell, said: "We are honoured Sir Michael is joining us, his experience and expertise in the education sector is unparalleled. With Sir Michael on board, there is a great opportunity to share his knowledge and skills, and make a tangible difference to the quality of education in schools today.
"Founded as a Catholic institution for the education of teachers in 1850, St Mary's has a proud heritage in the pursuit of high quality teaching. I feel sure our own excellent team will also make valuable contributions to Sir Michael's work."
Former Secretary of State for Education, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at St Mary's, Rt Hon Ruth Kelly said: "There is little doubt in the education community that our schools are facing challenging times - only last week, a report by the National Audit Office has said schools face cuts of 8% in real terms by 2019-20 and our head teachers are, as a result, facing increased pressure.
"In addition there is a pressing need to develop a new cadre of leaders in the education system who can rise to the challenge of managing not just one school, but several schools. At a time, when headteacher and executive headteacher recruitment is in crisis, Sir Michael's focus on leadership and standards could not begin at a more opportune moment."
Sir Michael Wilshaw commented: "I am delighted to take up this new position at St Mary's and I am very much looking forward to getting this programme off the ground. There are some very effective multi-academy trusts which are doing a great job in raising standards. Their example provides a learning opportunity to improve education across the board. f we are to improve standards of education for all pupils, we need to ensure that a high level of leadership is consistent in every trust."
Further details of the Westminster Diocese Academy Trust pilot programme will be established at Headteacher conferences later this month.
For more information about St Mary's University, see: www.stmarys.ac.uk/