The Worst of Times – The Best of Times: Melanie Saunders

A webinar with Melanie Saunders.

It is interesting to reflect on how things change – and how they stay the same. Perhaps that is just a consequence of being a long time in the same professional arena.

This webinar will explore the opportunities we have, as children begin to return to our classrooms, to let go of some of the things that made no difference to gaps in learning and start to focus more of our time on what matters.

My experience in Education

I have worked in education my whole professional life but in a range of roles wide enough, I think, to allow me to see the current challenges we all face from many different angles.

 I have been: –

  • An English teacher implementing at the dawn of the National Curriculum
  • Sole deputy head of a high performing school, amongst the first technology colleges and the very first group of GM schools.
  • The headteacher of an 11-18 school in the most challenging of circumstances.
  • A senior officer in a large shire authority with school improvement responsibility from early years through to post-16
  • The chair of an IEB taking a small secondary school from Special Measures to Good in five terms
  • An independent consultant: I set up and chaired a primary improvement board, wrote a successful Free School bid, reviewed the governance of a major academy chain and provided curriculum review and leadership coaching.
  • A member of a recent ACSL Commission (, contributor to reports and published education writer.[1]
  • An Associate Director with High Performance Learning where I coach some of the highest profile independent and international schools working towards their accreditation as HPL World Class Schools.

What will the webinar discuss?

The challenges we face as a profession remain apparently intransigent (and we could list them) but we have learnt a lot about what works, particularly in the last few months – if only we were allowed to get on with it without the regular ideological re-set!

My thirty, extremely varied, years in education have clarified a few things: –

  • School status makes no difference, morally driven leadership does
  • What happens in the classroom is the only thing that matters
  • Talking about high expectations is irrelevant – it is acting on them that counts
  • We really can grow intelligence and teach folk how to be successful – but we must set out with that as our intention.
  • Language is democracy – gaps in words are gaps in opportunity.
  • Good progress is not a destination.
  • Teachers and school leaders have control over most of what matters – they just need to exercise it
  • There is huge power in the word yet

In my webinar I will be exploring what this all means for schools in these times of extreme challenge – and great opportunity.

Melanie Saunders

August 2020

[1] “The Secondary Curriculum Leader’s Handbook” (Chapter 7: Take Back Control) Pub: John Catt 2019 ISBN 978-1-912906-16-1

 “Self-Improving Schools: The Journey to Excellence” (Chapter 16: The Hurricane of Reform) Pub: John Catt 2016 ISBN 978-1-909717-78-7

Register Here for the Melanie Saunders Webinar or get in touch with the team here with any questions.

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