Pete Lowe teams up with Tytherington School to create and sustain winning mindsets

In an educational landscape that is subject to increasing scrutiny and pressure, leadership has never been more in the spotlight. A study by Harvard Business Review recently exposed a potentially distorted reward criteria for headteachers, with aggressive, short-term approaches seemingly favoured over carefully-crafted long-term strategies*.

Cheshire-based Emmanuel Botwe is headteacher of Tytherington School, which features in the top 10% nationally of sixth forms for A Level results and has seen a 16 per cent hike in the GCSE headline performance measures. With an academic record of note, the results are one of a wider set of criteria for which Emmanuel feels responsibility in his leadership position, having established a desire to “develop A* people, not just A* academic performances.”

Emmanuel joined Tytherington School as headteacher in September 2015, keen to build on its strong foundation and reputation as a school rooted in the heart of the local community. His emphasis on the creation of a sustainable high performance culture was reinforced by the decision to partner with former head of education and performance at Manchester City Football Club, Pete Lowe. Pete now heads up First Team Ltd, drawing on parallels in the Premiership with education environments to support the development of winning mindsets.

Having set the bar high when it comes to measuring success within his debut year at Tytherington School, Emmanuel is keen to “stay hungry”. Indeed Pete talks about synergies with the high performance environment of the Premiership, saying: “We were in the business of creating players and not just winning games. The strategy has to have longevity so Emmanuel’s team focus is about sustaining success and creating leaders at every level within the school to inspire, challenge and drive the strategy.”

When asked about the unrelenting pressure of Ofsted and the tendency of schools to feel distracted by anything that doesn’t relate directly to generating results, Emmanuel explains: “You’ve got to develop a culture that will support your strategies. Without a strong leadership culture, I would question how good your school is by anyone’s standards, let alone Ofsted. Investing in leadership culture makes me feel even more confident about external pressures because I know I have a team that can respond and find solutions.”

Pete feels that schools need to be mindful of falling into the trap of focusing too much on the results and not enough on the process to support them. He said: “There’s no denying that schools face pressure to deliver when it comes to academic performance. However, it’s important to see the bigger picture, to recognise that the environment is always evolving. We talk about ‘excellence’ but what does that really mean? Let’s be more explicit about where we can see improvement and then set attainable marginal gains that drive performance growth and require input from the whole team, not just the senior leadership cohort.”

With an astonishing track record of first team and international player development during his time in the Premiership, Pete is adamant that strong leadership cultures require a team approach: “Everyone has a role to play, regardless of hierarchies and each person is equally valued. It’s important that people are accountable and encouraged to take responsibility rather than micro-managed as this can suppress natural talent.”

Looking ahead, Emmanuel is well aware of the challenge he has set the team at Tytherington School to sustain performance and he is not afraid to face this head on as a leader: “A key part of your role as a leader is to make sure everyone understands how they contribute to the whole so that they feel part of something that is bigger than any one individual. Creating that culture is hard work and is achieved over time through the millions of interactions you have with people around school. Over time this will yield great academic results but more importantly it will enable young people to leave your school as A* people.”

*Source – Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2016/10/the-one-type-of-leader-who-can-turn-around-a-failing-school

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