School exam league tables: High-flying headteacher who turned around a school's fortunes in just two years

Case Study

A high-flying headteacher has achieved a remarkable turn-around in his school’s fortunes since he took over two years ago.

Former senior British Airways executive Matt Butler has seen the percentage of pupils getting five A* to C grades at GCSE including maths and English more than double from 30 per cent to 62 per cent in the past year.

The dramatic improvement has led to the Oasis Academy Brightstowe in Bristol becoming one of the most improved schools in the country.

The 500-pupil school, which took over from a former failing comprehensive four years ago, serves a predominantly white working class neighbourhood in the city. Now it has been rated as “good with outstanding features” by education standards watchdog Ofsted.

Mr Butler, aged 43, who turned to teaching after working as British Airway’s area manager for the Far East in Australia, reckons the leadership skills he developed in his earlier life have stood him in good stead as a headteacher.

He added:  “The great thing has been to get the students to believe in themselves - that they can achieve.

“They come to us believing that the deck of cards is stacked against them - but we talk to them about or belief in them and our belief they can achieve.

“It’s not easy - the community sometimes struggles with that.”

He added:  “I worked in central London before coming here and the majority of the students came with higher aspirations than here.  There was a feeling that dreams can come true in London.

“Gradually, though. they’ve started bragging about how ell they’ve been doing.  We’ve got them saying ‘I want to become a doctor’, ‘I want to become a surgeon ‘ or ‘I want to become a barrister’.”

The school has drafted in a range of outside speakers to encourage students to fulfil their ambitions.  It has also tried to develop leadership skills amongst the pupils by getting them to act as “heroes” - or “ambassadors” to primary school children to encourage them to learn.

Mr Butler, who qualified as a teacher seven years ago, said:  “The honest answer as to why I left my job is that I wasn’t fulfilled in what I was doing.  I lost the passion for what I was doing.

“It took me a long while to work out what I should do - whether that should be teaching.  I cam to the conclusion that working in challenging schools.  My first boss said to me: ‘You love your job, don’t you?’ and I said:  ‘Yes, more than anything I have done’.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£30000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An independent boys' school sit...

Tradewind Recruitment: Graduate - Newly Qualified Teachers Required For Sept 2015

£21000 - £50000 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: Graduate Teachers/ Newly Qua...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required for a 'Good@ school - Ofsted 2015

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: My client primary school loc...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teachers Required in Norwich and Great Yarmouth

£20000 - £45000 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am working on behalf of a ...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies