School exam league tables: High-flying headteacher who turned around a school's fortunes in just two years
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Thursday 24 January 2013
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’.”
Greek hospitals cannot afford painkillers, scissors or sheets as budget cuts bite
Purity balls: Girls in the US making virginity pledges as fathers vow to 'protect purity'
Bulgarian seaside resort Sunny Beach is cheapest for beer
Female Muay Thai champion hustles coaches to give them a beating
Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
- 1 Eurovision 2015: Graham Norton returns with another cutting commentary - his best lines
- 2 Purity balls: Girls in the US making virginity pledges as fathers vow to 'protect purity'
- 3 Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take title from Conchita Wurst
- 4 Mother 'will allow son's circumcision in return for release from prison'
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
Reach Volunteering: Would you like to volunteer your expertise as Chair of Governors for Livability?
Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Finance Admin...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...