Focus on ... Stephen Tierney: honest reflections on the current and future vocation of school leadership
Stephen Tierney is the executive director of the Blessed Edward Bamber Catholic Multi Academy Trust (or BEBCMAT). The trust, based in Blackpool, comprises of three academies – two primaries Christ the King and St. Cuthbert's, and one secondary St. Mary's.
A regular and popular speaker at education conferences, Stephen has a brilliant reputation as someone who articulates and solves the systemic problems with knowledge of frontline education. He brings this to bear by sitting in a number of roles outside the trust. He chairsthe SSAT's Vision 2040, a group of leading educators who are researching and making recommendations on what schooling should look like in 2040, breaking the cycle of five-year policy visions. He also chairs the influential Headteachers' Roundtable, a grassroots think-tank that seeks to place the teaching profession at the heart of education policy making.
Late in 2016, Tierney published his "first and probably only" book, Liminal Leadership. In it, he brings to bear reflections from his 30 years of leading and learning. Tierney claims that the education system is currently at a threshold where the teaching profession may be diminished or augmented. Liminal Leadership aims to equip current and prospective school leaders at all levels to scrutinise, polish and advance their skills "to build enriching, aspirational and ultimately fulfilling cultures within which to work".
It is written for teachers and leaders who want to reflect on their current and future practice. He uses his own professional journey as a framework, and is unafraid to admit mistakes, which provides valuable lessons for others to improve their leadership and avoid some of its pitfalls.
"Skilfully interweaving personal stories with professional insights, Stephen explores 'our why' in education – what motivates us, what the most effective leadership looks like and what we learn on our journey to being the best leader we can be," writes Jill Berry, education consultant and former headteacher. "Stephen shows how successful schools give a child the means of earning a living and also a reason for living – this is not an either/or proposition."
His conversational writing style, which combines big think pieces with a good dose of practical advice, makes this an accessible for teachers of all levels.You can follow Stephen on Twitter @LeadingLearner
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