I believe so much in these children – why shouldn’t they succeed?”
Slade Primary School welcomes in 2017 with a new acting deputy headteacher who’s committed to giving her best, whatever the occasion.
It’s fair to say that 2016 was a year of celebration for Kerriann Dyson. First there was the small matter of getting married. Then there was her grandfather’s 84th birthday party. The job promotion was the icing on the cake, after an eventful 12 months.
The new acting deputy headeacher certainly has a knack for relationship building. This isn’t just a nod to Kerriann’s newly-wed status, but the result of the connections she’s made across the seven schools in the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP).
She joined ATLP’s Slade Primary School in September 2015 as an assistant headteacher. “One of the first things I did was to build links in school and then across the ATLP, developing really strong relationships with people,” she says.
Her plan, she told the ATLP’s Partnership Post just over a year ago, was to work with the senior leadership team, staff, parents, governors and pupils, to take Slade on its journey forward.
Twelve months on and Kerriann is true to her vows. She says:
We’re on a really exciting journey to outstanding. Everyone is working together and supporting one another.”
Those closet to Kerriann at work have been quick to reward her commitment. She toasted her first anniversary at the ATLP with a rather special present – a promotion to acting deputy headteacher.
“It’s my biggest and most rewarding challenge, but I’m thrilled,” she reveals.
This primary school is special and I’m privileged to work here.”
She adds: “I like challenges and when opportunities present themselves, I grab them with both hands.”
Headteacher Helen Hastilow, who joined Slade at around the same time as Kerriann, is equally jubilant. She was previously deputy at ATLP’s Mere Green Primary School, before being promoted to her position at Slade.
Helen (pictured with Kerriann) says:
“Kerriann is everything you would want from a leader in your school. She is passionate, caring and truly committed to the staff, community and pupils of Slade.
“She has made such a positive impact since joining us and promotes excellence across the ATLP. I am looking forward to working with Kerriann in her role as acting deputy headteacher – together we will continue on Slade’s journey.”
Kerriann adds: “Helen’s fantastic – so supportive, so nurturing. Her coaching style allows me to develop – it’s not just about her fixing problems, it’s about her giving me room to find my own solutions.”
Supporting each other
Kerriann has also received support and focused coaching sessions from Hill West deputy, Hannah Cook, who has been on secondment to Slade since May. She’s also benefited from the guidance of primary and secondary headteachers from across the ATLP, including Mere Green’s headteacher, Anna Balson, who conducted Kerriann’s Pupil Premium impact review.
“The ATLP is full of generous leaders. There’s so much collaboration and support. It’s not competitive, there’s no judging – we all have a vested interest in the ATLP and we want the best for the children,” Kerriann observes.
One such generous mentor is Richard Gill, CEO of the ATLP.
“It’s been great to have one-to-one sessions with Richard and to discuss my ethos around education. He has allowed me the space to explore and it’s been wonderful to be able to spend time reflecting on the art of teaching and leadership,” she enthuses.
From day one Kerriann’s mission was to form alliances across the partnership. She says: “My focus was on understanding what each school was about and looking at how we can support each other.
“As a partnership we’re very good at looking at what our other schools do well and tweaking that for our own schools. We then look at ways we can support one another around development points.”
Kerriann, an English subject leader, and senior leaders from the ATLP’s three other primary schools set about organising a whole ATLP writing day, working alongside Hill West headteacher, Dr Beth Clarke.
Kerriann says: “Beth’s so supportive – she’s always available with suggestions and ideas that allow us to explore concepts further.”
Kerriann may have 10 years of teaching under her belt, but she is quick to point out that this is the most progress that she has ever made in such a short space of time.
“It’s been a steep learning curve at times,” she says, “but it’s great to learn, to share and to look at how can I improve. There’s always something you can learn and so many opportunities in which to do that. I’m really loving it.”
As deputy, she wants to be more strategic in her approach to school leadership. She says: “I’m going to look at whole school and ATLP initiatives – taking a broader view and working with colleagues across the partnership.
“I want to take us to where I know we can be. I believe so much in these children – why shouldn’t they succeed?”
Pay it forward
Kerriann is also using her expertise to develop the ATLP’s “rising stars.”
“We have some amazing talent and we want to support that next level of leaders,” says Kerriann, who is fresh from leading training sessions on both the Arthur Terry National Teaching School’s (ATNTS) NQT Plus 1 and the EYFS programmes.
The ATLP is very good at talent spotting. When they find somebody with talent they give them opportunities – we’re great at retaining staff.”
Kerriann is equally proud of her school’s cherished place in the community – a community that she knows well. Her grandparents, Barbara and Peter, live just around the corner from Slade, which made it easy for Kerriann to pop in recently for a slice of her grandfather’s birthday cake.
In fact, news of Kerriann’s promotion has already reached the Erdington grapevine.
“My grandmother has been telling everybody that her grand-daughter is the new deputy at Slade,” Kerriann laughs.
But staff relatives are not the only ones to champion Slade’s ascendance. The whole community is behind the school, according to Kerriann:
“Slade plays a unique role in the community and we have lots of support. Jack Dromey MP saw how happy our children are when he came into school. Parents can also see we are making great progress – the sky’s the limit!”