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Q&A with: Libby Nicholas, REAch4 Trust

In the run up to The Academies Show on April 26th 2017, we are asking a number of our speakers for their thoughts and opinions on the academies and wider education sector, and what the future may hold for those in teaching, and other education roles.

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Hear from Libby Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer of the REAch4 Academy Trust:




In light of the EU referendum, what are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the sector in the coming years?

As educators, one of our core responsibilities is to equip young people with the skills to make well-rounded judgements and to form their own views and opinions. One of the main challenges will be to ensure that tolerance and respect for others is not lost in the emotive debates that will continue to be par for the course over the coming years. Conversely, such a heated environment provides a fantastic opportunity to re-engage young people in public debate and to demonstrate that their voice and their vote (when they are old enough) counts.

The Government is due to release its proposals for reforming the school system. What do you hope for these proposals?

The overriding hope is that the proposals create a programme of reform that will drive social mobility and raise standards across the landscape, regardless of school structures.

In the recent influential PISA tables by the OECD the UK made little progress in international rankings since results three years ago. What do you think we can learn from other international education systems?

In the very high ranking countries, teaching is viewed by society as a prestige profession. There is a sense that we have lost some of that here in the UK. The teaching profession needs to regain a sense of professional pride – both in itself, but also from others.

What do you think the sector will look like in 5 years’ time?

There is likely to be some consolidation amongst MATs – some mergers, and also a greater sense of brand identity between MATs with trusts developing more of a reputation for distinct types of school improvement models. We are also likely to see more grammar schools by 2022, and maintained schools will be few and far between, if any. I hope we will also see a rejuvenation of vocational education.

Finally, what is the one message that you would want visitors to take away with them from The Academies Show London 2017?

That by collaborating we grow stronger – it is in everyone’s interest to share what works and is the only way to drive system-led improvement.

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