1999 seems a long time ago – but it was then that I made my first application for a headship. It was a bit of a false start as I actually withdrew the application after visiting the school. This is no reflection on the school, which was excellent, but I hadn't fully thought through uprooting my whole family and moving to a different part of the country.
My next applications were more considered. After not getting through to the second day for the first post I interviewed for, I was the only person taken through to the second day at St. Mary's Catholic College, where I have served as headteacher for the last 13 years. Here is my advice for those applying for the first time.
Make sure your vision matches the school
It's interesting to reflect back on the only two experiences I have of being interviewed for a headship. The feedback from the first school was that they thought I was far too radical in my thinking and not in touch with reality. They may have been right. At St. Mary's, however, they were looking for a leader who would help develop a new vision for the school and lead it into the 21st century.
This isn't about good school/bad school or good applicant/bad applicant – it is about matching your vision and aspirations with those of the school and governors that you will be working for. If the two aren't aligned it will be like being in a boat with everyone rowing in a different direction – meaning the governors and headteacher are in for a torrid time. Governing bodies aren't always confident in articulating their own vision, but they do know an engaging and inspiring one when they hear it. If you can't articulate your vision to a friend or relative – or to yourself in the mirror – you are not yet ready to lead a school.
You can't ever be truly prepared – but you'll learn
With the exception of vision, I think that you have to accept that there is no preparation for headship quite like actually being a headteacher. You need a good knowledge of how schools work; an awareness of the structures and systems that ensure good order and high standards of teaching & learning; the ability to work with and influence people and an abundance of resilience.
What I knew about premises and finance when I became a headteacher, you could write on the back of an envelope – and a not very big one at that. And yet, over the past 13 years, I have had overall responsibility for £30m of capital building programmes and £80m of recurrent funding. Another worry for applicants can be personnel issues that go beyond the difficult conversation into formal procedures. Outside of a few difficult meetings where I had been alongside the headteacher as a "professional development opportunity", again my experience was limited. Remember to follow the policy, make sure you have a good HR provider and be calm and balanced in your approach. You will grow in confidence with experience in time.
Headship is a team game
I hope we have eventually given up on the myth of the heroic headteacher who gallops in to save the day single-handed. Headship is now more about the team than simply the individual. Make sure you meet the senior leadership team of the school you are applying for, and consider whether this is a group you can work with. I would tend to keep it social and just get a feel for the group and start to build the relationships. Most of all, be yourself; this is what you bring to genuine and authentic leadership, and it has already got you to deputy headship.
Make fewer but better applications
A few high quality applications are more likely to succeed that trying to send in a generic application for lots of headships. This is a major decision and you have to get it right. Research the school well, visit it prior to applying if you can and make sure the application is totally tailored to the school. We recently appointed three assistant headteachers at St. Mary's. All of them, along with a number of other potential applicants, visited the school before applying and took the time to write highly personalised letters. These are the people you want working at your school, these are the type of people you want leading your school.
This is likely to be a pretty gruelling few days with a series of panel interviews, data tasks and presentations. I was successfully interviewed for the executive headship of St. Mary's Catholic College and Christ the King Catholic Primary School earlier this year, but I had no idea how many other candidates would be invited for interview. The poor governors may have had to listen to presentations all afternoon. I wanted to make the point that, if we wanted to be outstanding, we were going to have to do something different and that the skills I had acquired as a secondary headteacher would be transferable to the executive headteacher role.
The opening two minutes of my presentation was a card sort of the characteristics of outstanding primary and secondary schools taken from two Ofsted documents. It was only after they had sorted them into a couple of groups and noticed all the repetition that I explained where they had come from. I was doing something different while showing them my skills are transferable.
Please don't fall into the trap of gimmicks, but look for the opportunity to let your light shine out from the crowd. If you're not successful then maybe it just wasn't the job for you. Remember to learn from each experience and keep a record of questions asked and tasks given.
And good luck – I hope the right school is out there for you.
Stephen Tierney is executive headteacher at Christ the King Catholic Primary School & St Mary's Catholic College. Previously he was headteacher of St. Mary's Catholic College, Blackpool for the past 13 years. He blogs at Leading Learner and tweets as @LeadingLearner
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St Trinian's is a 2007 British comedy film and the sixth in a long-running series of British films based on the works of cartoonist Ronald Searle set in St Trinian's School. The first five films form a series, starting with The Belles of St Trinian's in 1954, with sequels in 1957, 1960, 1966 and 1980. The 2007 release, 27 years after the last entry, and 53 years after the first film, is a rebooting of the franchise, rather than a direct sequel, with certain plot elements borrowed from the first film.
Whereas the earlier films concentrated on the adults, this film gives the school pupils greater prominence. St Trinian's is an anarchic school for uncontrollable girls run by eccentric headmistress Camilla Dagey Fritton (the reboot continues the tradition, established by Alastair Sim in the original film, of casting a male actor to play the female headmistress, with Rupert Everett inheriting the role). St Trinian's received mixed reviews.
Annabelle Fritton (Talulah Riley), an uptight daddy’s girl, unwillingly transfers to St Trinian’s from the distinguished Cheltenham Ladies’ College at her father’s (Rupert Everett) request. Annabelle is clearly different and doesn’t fit in, telling her father, Carnaby Fritton, that the school is "like Hogwarts for pikeys". She is taken around the school by Kelly Jones (Gemma Arterton), the head girl, who introduces her to the various cliques within the school.
On her first night at St Trinian’s, Annabelle is pranked by the girls, resulting in a video of her running around the school naked being broadcast live on the internet. She calls her father to pick her up, but he pretends to have bad phone reception so he can stay at a bar. Annabelle is drafted to the hockey team when she hits her phone with her hockey stick, smashing a statue. The girls of St Trinian’s are involved in business with Flash Harry (Russell Brand), who pays them to make cheap vodka. Flash is shown to be romantically interested in Kelly, who initially turns him down.
The Cheltenham Ladies’ College hockey team arrive at St Trinian’s, along with Education Minister Geoffrey Thwaites (Colin Firth). Thwaites is shown to have romantic history with the headmistress of St Trinian’s, Camilla Fritton (Rupert Everett). Annabelle is forced to face her former bullies, including captain Verity Thwaites (Lucy Punch). The hockey match is violent, ending in Kelly shooting a winning goal for St Trinians, which is followed by a brawl between the two schools. As the match is being played, Geoffrey Thwaites inspects the school, finding the illegal vodka-making business and the chatline being run by the Posh Totty clique.
The following morning, a banker arrives at the school and serves Camilla with a foreclosure notice, as the school owes the bank in excess of £500,000 and has ignored six previous final demands. A subsequent meeting between Camilla and Carnaby is watched by the girls using hidden cameras, in which Carnaby confesses his distaste towards his daughter. Annabelle is clearly upset, despite Camilla defending her. Carnaby encourages Camilla to turn the school into a boutique hotel, telling her that "when this school closes down, you'll have lost everything. More importantly, so will I."
Kelly and Flash work with the students to devise a plan to save the school. They must get into the final of School Challenge, a TV quiz show held in the National Gallery in London, as a cover for stealing Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring”. Chelsea, Peaches and Chloe (the Posh Totty clique) are chosen as the School Challenge Team. By cheating in every round, they make it to the grand final. As the final is being filmed, Kelly, Taylor and Andrea manage to steal the painting, with help from the Geeks, as well as Annabelle and Camilla.
Camilla paints an exact copy of the painting and has Flash, posing as a German art dealer, sell it to Carnaby in a black market deal. The school then receives a further £50,000 reward for returning the real painting to the National Gallery. The loans are able to be repaid and the school is saved.
- Gemma Arterton as Kelly Opossum Jones, the Head Girl
- Rupert Everett as Miss Camilla Dagey Fritton, St Trinian's Headmistress
- Everett also plays Carnaby Fritton, Camilla's brother, Annabelle's father
- Colin Firth as Geoffrey Thwaites, the Education Minister
- Russell Brand as Flash Harry, the spiv
- Tamsin Egerton as Chelsea Parker, Posh Totty #1
- Antonia Bernath as Chloe, Posh Totty #2
- Amara Karan as Peaches, Posh Totty #3
- Paloma Faith as Andrea, the Emo
- Juno Temple as Celia, the "Trustafarian" one
- Kathryn Drysdale as Taylor, the Chav
- Lily Cole as Polly, the Geek
- Cloe and Holly Mackie as Tara & Tania, the Twins
- Lena Headey as Miss Dickinson, the English Teacher
- Fenella Woolgar as Miss Cleaver, the Sports Teacher
- Caterina Murino as Miss Maupassant, the Foreign Languages Teacher
- Jodie Whittaker as Beverly, the receptionist
- Toby Jones as St Trinian's Bursar
- Talulah Riley as Annabelle Fritton
- Celia Imrie as St Trinian's Matron
- Stephen Fry as Himself, the School Challenge presenter
- Anna Chancellor as Miss Bagstock, Cheltenham's Headmistress
- Lucy Punch as Verity Thwaites, the Minister's daughter, and Cheltenham's school bully
- Mischa Barton as JJ French, the PR Guru, and previous Headgirl
- Steve Furst as Bank Manager
- Dolly the Dog as Mr Darcy, the school's dog
The members of Girls Aloud (Nicola Roberts, Kimberley Walsh, Sarah Harding, Nadine Coyle and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini) all make cameo appearances as the members of St Trinian's school band, and cameos in the film itself. Zöe Salmon also makes a cameo appearance as an emo girl, while Nathaniel Parker, the director's real life brother, makes a short appearance as the Chairman of the National Gallery. NewscasterJeremy Thompson also briefly appears, as himself.
The film’s score was composed by Charlie Mole. The soundtrack also contains “Theme to St. Trinian's” performed by Girls Aloud, “Trouble” performed by Cast of St Trinian's, “Oh My God” performed by Mark Ronson featuring Lily Allen, “Love Is in the Air” performed by Rupert Everett and Colin Firth, “Don't Give Up” performed by Noisettes, “Nine2Five” performed by The Ordinary Boys vs. Lady Sovereign, “If I Can't Dance” performed by Sophie Ellis-Bextor, “Teenage Kicks” performed by Remi Nicole, “Sanctuary” performed by Gabriella Cilmi, “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” performed by The Four Aces, “3 Spoons of Suga” performed by Sugababes, “On My Way to Satisfaction” performed by Girls Aloud and “The St Trinian's School Song” performed by Cast of St Trinian's.
- Park Place, Remenham, Berkshire, England (St Trinian's school)
- Ealing Studios, Ealing, London, England
- London, England
- Oxfordshire, England
- The National Gallery, London, England, (exteriors, The National Gallery)
- Trafalgar Square, St James's, London, England
St Trinian's premiered in London on 10 December 2007, and was theatrically released on 21 December 2007 by Entertainment Film Distributors.
St Trinian's grossed £12,042,854 in the United Kingdom, surpassing its £7 million production budget. As of 18 July 2010, the film had grossed a worldwide total of $29,066,483. It was the fifth highest-grossing film during the Christmas season of 2007, behind Enchanted, I Am Legend, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, and The Golden Compass. It ranks in the top grossing independent British films of the past decade.
St Trinian's received mixed reviews. Empire wrote that the film "fuse[s] an understanding of what made the originals great with a modern feel – the writers have fulfilled their end of the bargain, even tweaking some of the weaker points of the original story."
The Observer wrote that it "is raucous, leering, crude and, to my mind, largely misjudged, with Rupert Everett playing Miss Fritton as a coquettish transvestite with the manners of a Mayfair madam. The attempts to shock us fail, though Cheltenham Ladies College may well be affronted to hear one of its teachers say 'between you and I'. But the preview was packed with girls aged from seven to 14 who found it hilarious, and especially enjoyed Russell Brand."
Derek Malcolm, in The Evening Standard, wrote: "Structurally, the new movie is a mess, and it doesn't look too convincing either, with cinematography that uses all sorts of old-fashioned dodges to raise a laugh", and "when you look at it again, the old film was not only superior but rather more radical. This St Trinian's looks as if it is aiming at the lowest common denominator, and finding it too often." On the film-critics aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, St Trinian's holds a 31% positive rating, with the consensus "Both naughtier and campier than Ronald Searle's original postwar series, this St. Trinian's leans on high jinks instead of performances or witty dialogue."
St Trinian's was released on DVD on 14 April 2008 by Entertainment in Video.
|Award||Category 1||Category 2||Nominee||Result|
|Empire Award and National Movie Award||Best Comedy||Best Performance - Male|
Best Performance - Male
Best Performance - Female and Best Newcomer
|Colin Firth For Mamma Mia!|
The film's soundtrack was released on 10 December 2007, via Universal Music Group. The album featured two original songs by British pop group Girls Aloud, including the single, "Theme to St. Trinian's". A music video for the song was released to promote the film and soundtrack.
The film's cast also recorded the theme, as well as a cover of Shampoo's "Trouble". A music video of the cast performing "Trouble" was also released.Rupert Everett and Colin Firth, who star in the film, recorded the John Paul Young song "Love Is in the Air". A number of popular singles or current album tracks by artists, such as Mark Ronson, Lily Allen, Noisettes, Gabriella Cilmi, and Sugababes, were included on the soundtrack.
It was announced at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival that the sequel, The Legend of Fritton's Gold, also directed by Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson, would be released in 2009. Filming began on 6 July 2009, and on 7 July 2009, it was announced that David Tennant, Sarah Harding and Montserrat Lombard had all signed on to appear in the sequel.
In December 2009, it was announced that there will be a St Trinian's 3: Battle of the Sexes. However, as of March 2018, no cast or release date has been confirmed for the third instalment. It has been assumed the film is cancelled.