Book Review: Educating Drew

Book Title: Educating Drew – The Real Story of Harrop Fold School

Author: Drew Povey

Publisher: John Catt

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Link to buy this book:

For those of you who are not already familiar with the name Drew Povey, he is the Executive Headteacher at Harrop Fold School, in Salford, Greater Manchester. Drew and his school were the focus of the latest Educating series on Channel 4, called Educating Greater Manchester.

What is the book about?

This book is written from Drew’s viewpoint, he starts by talking about his and his brothers journeys to each becoming a part of Harrop Fold School. He moves on to share how the school has moved from an uninhabitable building and special measures; to a new build PFI school and an Ofsted rating of good. He is honest about the challenges they face to maintain progress and finding ways to pay back the historical debt.

He also discusses his leadership style, from how they structure and timetable meetings; to the 3P model; to the concept of ‘re-imagining’; to making time to listen to staff by hosting a breakfast once every few weeks, where all members of staff are invited and the leadership team serve the food and drinks.

The 3P Model – People, Process and Performance

Put ‘people’ first, get them to generate the ‘process’ for how things will work, and then the ‘performance’ will happen.

What did I think of the book?

I loved it. It is a MUST read book.

It was really refreshing to read about a school leader who takes inspiration from both business leaders and education leaders. He mentions Jim Collins, Tom Peters (business writer), Matthew Syed (author of Black Box Thinking), Herb Kelleher (CEO of Southwest Airlines), Maslows hierarchy of needs, Kaizen (the Japanese improvement system used by Toyota)… I started to think I was reading a book written by a school business leader!

You can tell that he has a fundamental understanding that people are a key element of being successful as a school and a leader.

I had a personal connection with the book, because I could see so many similarities with the challenges that Harrop Fold School have faced, with that of my experience working in a similar primary school in Telford. I identified with their ethos and ideas around recruitment, the same advice that Jim Collins gives, you need the right people on the bus. It is essential that staff working in areas of high deprivation have resilience and grit, because there are going to be lots of tough days.

You need your staff behind you if you are going to succeed and sustain that improvement. This books explains the elements that make up the success that they have experienced; but it also reminds us that effective change takes time, there is no quick fix formula. Plan improvement over years not days.

‘Everyone can shine, given the right lighting’  – Susan Cain – The Power of Introverts

This book is definitely making it on to the SBMreadinglist, because it has left me inspired that with the right leadership it is possible for no pupil or school to be left behind. There are many innovative and creative leaders out there and SBMs we need to join them and collaborate with them.

As Geoff Barton has said in TES this week, “we need to change the story”.


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