By Phil Loftus
18 September, 2019
This new academic term, Phil Loftus joins Ormiston Academies Trust as Regional Director for the Trust’s schools in the North. In this role, Phil will be responsible for the educational outcomes and standards at nine secondary schools, including two associate schools, and will work with academy principals to provide support, guidance and challenge. Above all, Phil will champion and promote the OAT mission, strategic priorities and values to create a sense of belonging across the Trust’s schools in the region.
Here, Phil discusses his journey working in education and his vision for his new role.
I’m joining OAT at a very exciting time for me – my thirtieth year in education! I have worked across the North of England in four different schools, initially as a Geography teacher and then for the last ten years as Headteacher at a school in North Yorkshire.
Growing up, my dad was very keen for all his children to go one step further than him and encouraged all seven of his children to go on to university. His pride at me becoming a Headteacher in later years meant he would tell anyone who listened what I did, and I soon realised just how important a job for the community it was.
In addition, my mum was a special needs teacher in Liverpool, and I would sometimes accompany her to school. Her pupils became my playground friends, yet I could also see the classroom from the teacher’s perspective. At the school, the children needed clear routines and I discovered how one person could make a real difference. After university, it was a simple decision to train to be a teacher.
Now, I love the freedom of the classroom and still teach when I can. My favourite aspect of working in education is the students themselves – I have always enjoyed their company and really appreciate the humour, incisiveness and honesty that teenagers bring to the world.
My first school was challenging, but it gave me many great opportunities not only to teach but to lead larger groups of children when I became Head of Year in my second year and then a Head of Geography in my third. Here, I was part of a team that saw the school receive two ‘Outstanding’ ratings! I quickly realised that I could have even more of an impact in a leadership role and after moving from Manchester to a school in North Yorkshire as Head of School, I was subsequently appointed Headteacher.
When the school was graded inadequate with capacity to improve, it took a great team and culture change to create a school we and the community were proud of. It was here that I learned the values of honesty, high expectations and personal hard work, and how they can motivate both staff and students to “go the extra mile.”
I wanted to join OAT as I was attracted to the Trust’s values – a belief that anyone can excel always chimes with me and I know that the Trust really believes in its students and staff. My success as a head was built on the shared ideas of colleagues and I truly believe that by working together we will achieve even more.
I’m now looking forward to meeting the students at each academy and hearing about their contributions to their community. OATs enrichment culture is something special and I’m intrigued to learn about the incredible social action programmes already in place and support the growth of even more. I also can’t wait to work with all of OAT’s incredible Principals in the North and share 20 years of senior leadership experience, all so that we can continue to develop the life chances of our students.
I am proud of my Northern roots and I know that my experiences in education to date have been in schools which are just like OAT’s in the North – hardworking, collaborative and community-focused. I think I might just fit in!