Burnt Mill Academy Trust

BMAT Local Leaders of Education

By Kelly Clark 

Two education leaders who are transforming primaries in Harlow have been called upon to help other schools across the county.

Stuart Pope and Sophie Laing are executive headteachers within the Burnt Mill Academy Trust (BMAT), with responsibility for four primary schools in the town.

Both have been named as Local Leaders of Education (LLE) and will now share their expertise with other heads in Essex.

The pair, who pride themselves on having turned around the standards and achievements within the schools, are keen to also bring fresh ideas back to Harlow.

Mr Pope, executive headteacher for Cooks Spinney Primary Academy and Roydon Primary School, said: “This new role means we will get to spend time in other schools, supporting and advising them in a structured, collaborative way. 

“We can always learn something from someone else. We are already sharing best practise within the Trust, but this enables us to widen our network further. Anything great that we see, we will be bringing back to Harlow.

“It’s about looking sideways and working with our neighbours. All children are entitled to high quality education and, as educators, we are collectively responsible for them all.”

Mrs Laing, executive headteacher for Little Parndon Primary School and Freshwaters Primary Academy, said: “One of the things I aim to do more of this year, is to visit other Good and Outstanding schools to see what they are doing. You can learn so much just by walking around a school. In my new role, I can already see things within my own schools which can be shared between them to make improvements. We have the opportunity to work with other schools within the Trust, but to now do that outside of the Trust with schools which have different ideas, environments and values is really exciting.

“We will learn an awful lot from it.”

The team have been selected because of their work within Harlow.

Mrs Laing said: “We have transformed failing schools in massively disadvantaged areas in a very short time. We have revitalised them, breathed life back into them and put them back into the heart of their communities.

“We have nurtured and grown great teaching teams and improved results. Children are proud of our schools and parents want them to be a part of our family.”

They will be called upon to help struggling schools with recruitment, building solid teams, developing teachers and making sure children feel safe.

The duo, who were nominated by BMAT CEO Helena Mills and had to complete an application and sit an interview, will undergo training in October before being allocated schools to assist.

All four primaries have heads of school who handle the day-to-day running of the schools which frees up the executive headteachers to carry out these roles.