James Howard

"The common factor of the best teachers is that they are all reflective"
About my career

I studied for the MSc in Educational Leadership whilst deputy head teacher at a school in Oldham and then Salford. Shortly after graduating I became a principal for Northern Education Trust: based in Bolton. I am now an Executive Principal for Northern Education trust working in academies in Bolton and Calderdale.

As Executive Principal I ensure that the vision of the trust: ‘We constantly focus on standards as we understand outcomes are paramount. Our decision making is driven entirely by what is best for children. By doing this we enhance the life chances of the children and young people in our care.’ is carried out across the academies I lead. Together, with a team of senior leaders, we ensure that all children and young people in our care receive the very best education possible. You could view the role as head teacher over one big school that happens to have ‘more than one roof’.

The skills gained on the MSc have enabled me to reflect on my own leadership strengths and areas for development: The Masters has enabled me to use a framework to support my own leadership whilst also coaching the leadership of others. The program also taught me a range of research skills that I have been able to continue to use and develop after leaving the course – ensuring the schools I lead use research based practice. Research based practice has ensured that the development of the curriculum, quality of teaching and provision of education in the academies I lead continues to be contemporary, innovative and of the highest quality. The skills gained at Man Met have laid a platform for continuous development in my career following graduation.

Since graduating I have gone on to complete the National Professional Qualification of Executive Headship.

My top tip for students is…

Visit the school you’re wishing to apply to. Judge whether it’s the correct place for you, do you share the values and vision of the school? Because if you don’t, you're going to find it tough. Once you've found the right school make sure your application is tailored to that school. Ask yourself ‘what are they looking for and what are their needs?'

I’m inspired by…

The biggest inspirations to me are the teachers I work with day in and day out. Especially the ones who’ve been teaching for 20 years and are still at ‘the chalk face’. They have an incredible amount of knowledge. At MMU, Jay Henry was an energetic and inspirational lecturer.

On top of excellent teaching one of the most enjoyable aspects of the course was working with colleagues from across the education sector: workshops and tutorials included peers from primary, secondary, further education, adult and the prison service. This brought a unique perspective to many topics taught.


Why I love Manchester Met

Empowering and inspiring, the MSc changed the way I viewed leadership.