Dr. Chris Tomlinson, Regional Director of Harris Secondary - the one budget you keep moving up: how to keep investing in staff development in schools


Hello from Brighton!

You’re reading the We Are In Beta Podcast newsletter. We - the education community - Are In Beta - always learning.

Welcome to all you new subscribers. Thank you so much for joining us. If you’re reading this as a public post, catch up with previous interviews with inspiring leaders here.

We don’t often hear voices from within the Harris Federation, so I’m really excited to release Episode #8 of the We Are In Beta Podcast, with Dr. Chris Tomlinson, Regional Director of Harris Secondaries (and soon to be CEO of Coop Academies Trust).

In his time at Harris, Chris has taken 5 academies from inadequate to outstanding consecutively over 17 years of headship.

I this very rare interview, he shares, amongst many other insightful things, which school budget he always increases and why.

If you’re skeptical of Harris’ approach to education, I urge you to listen to this interview. I suspect it will make you think again. Let me know on Twitter @niallalcock or drop me an email niall@weareinbeta.com.

Take a break or schedule some time on your commute, and give this one a listen:

👂 Listen on Spotify | iTunes | Stitcher | Libsyn | TuneIn 🔉

Leave us a review and I’ll give you a shout out in the next episode

👀 Read the full transcription 📖

What do we talk about in the podcast?

  • Why Chris’s experience of education wasn’t great and what gave him confidence

  • What he believes headteachers should all still do

  • What he believes is the key to leading 5 schools from inadequate to outstanding

  • Which groups of students he believes defines you as a leader

  • Why he disagrees with tabloid newspapers

  • What he thinks about Ofsted

  • His advice to new leaders about how to approach Ofsted

  • What he believes is the most effective CPD

  • The one budget he increases every year in his schools

  • Which external organisations he recommends working with

  • How to get the most out of SEN funding

  • How he responds to the criticism that Harris academies are exam factories

  • How schools and the government can tackle teacher retention problems

  • Why his weaknesses might be his biggest strength

  • What advice he would give to aspirant headteachers

  • What one question he would ask every headteacher if could

  • How one student helped him out when is new accountability structures weren't very popular

  • Why he is optimistic about the future of education

💬 Join the conversation. Sadly Chris isn’t on social media but I’d still love to know what you think so please do tweet me @NiallAlcock . I’d love to know what you think.

If you liked what you heard, please can I ask you share this link with your colleagues and friends in teaching?

📰If you’re reading this as a public post, get access to all future episodes before anyone else as well as insights and links to resources from our inspiring guests by subscribing here 📧

The best ‘In Beta’ bits

We Are In Beta is a positive space that aims to capture the knowledge of inspiring school leaders so we can all keep learning.

As a thank you for being a valued member of the community, I curate the practical strategies and solutions to the challenges they’ve faced so you don’t miss out on them - the partnerships, the programmes, the books and the blogs.

If you’re already a subscriber, you’ll get these next Sunday. If you’re reading this as public post and want these resources too…

Get involved in the community

🙋🎙️ If you’d like tell your story or nominate a school with an incredible story to tell on the podcast check out the topics we’ll be exploring or tweet me @niallalcock with what you’re working on.

🙋📰 Not ready to share your story on the mic but still want to share what you are doing in your school with the community? Let me know and I’ll include it in community news.

Thanks for playing your part in making education the place we all know it can be.

Speak soon,


❤️ Please take a moment to “like” this post (the button is at the top of the mail). It helps others discover We Are In Beta. It’ll make my Sunday too.

👍If you found this newsletter useful hit that forward button to share it with your colleagues so we can benefit from more wonderful, collective knowledge.

📧 If you’re reading this as an email, you can keep an eye on it online as we add resources and links to it.