What are you leading?
I am Director of LKMco, the education and youth ‘think and action-tank’. LKMco is a social enterprise - we believe that society has a duty to ensure children and young people receive the support they need in order to make a fulfilling transition to adulthood.
We work towards this vision by helping education and youth organisations develop, evaluate and improve their work with young people. We then carry out academic and policy research and advocacy that is grounded in our experience.
Our work has helped dozens of charities and social enterprises working with disadvantaged young people to grow their impact and helped inform, shape and critique government policy. We consistently seek to reach ‘beyond the echo chamber’, informing attitudes to and understandings of educational disadvantage by securing high profile media coverage and tackling some of the most complex policy problems that government has to grapple with. The timeliness of our work, so that we can be responsive to big questions as and when they arise, is key. However, we also balance this with a commitment to highest standards of academic rigour, as demonstrated by our publications and citations in academic journals.
How did your experiences as a fellow inspire or prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Working and leading in a highly challenging context gave me hands on experience of the realities teachers and pupils face day to day. This provides a continuous ‘reality check’ and has helped underpin my credibility.
My rapid progression to school leadership and the training I received as part of that also ensures I have the skills to lead a team, set organizational priorities and plan towards them. I know that I made mistakes as a leader and manager but the reflective nature of the Teach First programme and community means that I have learned from these.
Being part of a mission-driven movement has also played a part in cementing my non-negotiable values and passion for change. It is these that motivate me day to day and push me so that I always want to do more.
Over the last few years the team around me has grown into a remarkable and highly respected group and it is my job now to ensure that they are all able to develop their talents and thrive. Over time they will all become leaders, and I want to ensure that the organization can provide them with the opportunities to channel their passions and abilities into transformational social change. I therefore need to ensure the organization has the resilience and scale.
Our work has also made us all increasingly aware of the role of different elements of policy and society that impact on young people and we are now looking to build our expertise in these areas so that we can start to address all the barriers to young people’s success. We are also increasingly interested in what we can learn from other parts of the world and how our expertise might be useful elsewhere and I will want to explore this over the coming years. I am delighted to have joined the Teach For All Policy Community of Practice to help me in this.