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Driving School Improvement across Haberdashers’ Academies Trust South

Driving School Improvement across the Trust

Our School Improvement strategy is built around our Haberdashers Model. This is a priority for all of our schools and as they strive to achieve our Vision for 2026 – every school an excellent school. Our model is built on five pillars: 

  • Leaders who care
  • Great people
  • Powerful knowledge
  • Individuals with character
  • Intelligent insight

To support these in coming to life, two strategic Director of School Improvement roles have been created - one for primary and one for secondary.

Sarah Mitchell (Primary Director) and Tom Howells (Secondary Director) took up their new roles in September 2021. Quickly becoming an integral part of the Haberdashers’ community, their time is spent working across all of our schools, supporting and driving meaningful and impactful interventions at Trust and school level.

In a short space of time, we have met and worked alongside fantastic, committed staff teams, met enthusiastic, engaging pupils and have been inspired on a daily basis by the work going on in our schools. We have so many ideas already, and are looking forward to collaborating with colleagues to bring them to fruition

– Sarah Mitchell, Director of Primary School Improvement

The School Improvement Directors drive the commitment to ensure that every child, regardless of their background or their circumstance, achieves well. Each of the Trust’s nine schools serve different communities and contexts, and each are at various stages of development.

A key part of their role is also to find our expertise within the Trust and build networks of collaboration to share this expertise across all of our schools. These networks are (and will be) focused on curriculum area as well as pedagogical approaches.

We are lucky to have incredibly talented teams across all of our schools, and are working together to offer our pupils the best possible education. Between us we have a wealth of experience across both the primary and secondary sectors, but we learn new things every day from those we work with.

– Tom Howells, Director of Secondary School Improvement

Critical to the roles is to look outwards to introduce research and best practice from beyond our Trust.  As a school improvement team, there are opportunities to develop powerful networks within other Haberdashers schools and beyond.

Developing a commonality of approach across the schools is critical to success, so that there is shared language and understanding of school improvement.  This makes the sharing of knowledge, skills and resources easier. However we recognise  the importance of preserving each school’s own unique identity, so that leaders have the freedom to lead in their own way. Finding the right balance is challenging, but with ongoing discussions and collaboration with school leaders, a clear and positive direction of travel is being identified.

Inclusion is at the heart of  School Improvement , ensuring that every child can thrive within our Haberdashers community. A newly launched inclusion initiative will look at innovative ways to support our pupils, and as far as possible remove barriers to learning so that every one leaves a confident, well-rounded individual on a mission to shape the world and our communities for the better.

This year there are three priorities for the School Improvement team:

  • To develop a curriculum which is ambitious for all pupils in all subjects
  • To support our leaders and staff in embedding the Haberdashers Principles, so that teaching is the best it can possibly be.
  • Developing our Haberdashers’ Advantage programme, so that all of our pupils have exposure to a range of experiences that enhance their cultural capital.

about our school improvement directors 

Sarah Mitchell: I have been working in education for over 25 years, both in the UK and US. Prior to joining Haberdashers, I spent 10 years as a Primary Headteacher within a large Multi-Academy Trust, leading two schools in Croydon and Bromley. I am passionate about inclusion, and want to ensure that all our pupils get the best possible start to their education journey. I believe our pupils deserve a rich academic curriculum, delivered by excellent teaching staff who both support and challenge them, and feel very lucky to work for an organisation that shares my vision and values.

Tom Howells – I have worked in education for the past 11 years in inner city schools. Prior to joining the Haberdashers’ Academies Trust, I worked in a variety of leadership roles for a large Multi-Academy Trust; most recently leading a school in North London. I know the value of a high-quality comprehensive education, and am passionate about ensuring every child has access to an ambitious and challenging curriculum delivered by teachers’ who are committed to the success of each and every pupil they teach. 


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