On 29 June Nicola Ross was appointed depute headteacher (school improvement) at Breadalbane Academy. She replaces David Macluskey, who left at the end of the summer term for a new job at Crieff High School. We caught up with Ms Ross to find out a bit about her and what she’ll be doing at Breadalbane.
1. Please can you tell us a bit about your professional background?
I took an honours degree in fine art at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen. After spending some time as a practising artist, I did some voluntary work teaching arts and crafts to adults with learning disabilities. This confirmed for me that I really wanted to train as a teacher. I completed my teacher training qualification at Moray House in 2002 and did a probationary year at Perth Academy, where I secured a permanent post and remained for the next three years. In 2006 I was promoted to principal teacher of art and design at Blairgowrie High School, a position I held for the next seven and a half years. In 2013 I was made acting depute headteacher in Blairgowrie, a post I held until my recent appointment as depute headteacher (school improvement) at Breadalbane Academy.
2. Why did you want to work at Breadalbane Academy?
I have always been interested in and attracted to working in an all-through school. I relish the opportunity of getting to know children early on in their school careers and seeing them progress and fulfil their potential into their senior phase. I enjoyed working in a rural setting in Blairgowrie and particularly liked the close links between the school and the wider community. I felt that the DHT position at Breadalbane Academy would allow me to become part of a new and exciting senior management team and to contribute to the further development of an already thriving community. I was also attracted by the excellent reputation that the school holds within the local authority.
3. What does a DHT (school improvement) do? And specifically, what does the job entail at Breadalbane?
The DHT (school improvement ) leads in areas such as: improving attainment; developing learning and teaching; expanding on the curriculum; building partnerships with employers and further education institutions; reporting to parents; and monitoring and tracking pupil progress. I will also be head of house for Farragon and Lawers. I will line manage a number of departments, meeting regularly with them to discuss, agree and monitor their improvement agendas. The emphasis is on building on and improving what we currently do, in line with national and regional trends and expectations. Since we are a new team we are in the process of discussing our individual roles and responsibilities. The job also involves working with other members of the senior management team to ensure that the school functions efficiently on a day-to-day basis.
4. Based on your experience so far, what do you bring your new role?
I feel I have had a good grounding at Blairgowrie High School, where I had the opportunity to lead on several different projects and areas for improvement such as: developing a robust quality assurance programme; monitoring learning and teaching; analysing exam results and identifying trends and areas for improvement; enhancing our transitions by developing an S1 freshers’ week; getting to know the pupils and staff in my house team and dealing with any issues which arose. I also bring enthusiasm, creativity and commitment and a strong desire to do as good a job as I possibly can.
5. What are your priorities for your first months in the job?
My first priority will be getting to know the pupils, staff and parents at Breadlabane Academy and the local community. I intend to shadow classes, meet with principal teachers initially to build up a picture of how well the school functions to help me identify future areas for improvement. In order to become acquainted with how an all-through school operates I intend to schedule visits to the primary and nursery departments as well as visits to the outlying primaries and to Pitlochry High School. My priorities will evolve in discussion with the headteacher, once we are more familiar with the school. I am happy to catch up and talk about more detailed priorities towards the end of the year, when I’ve been in the job for a bit longer.
6. How can parents get in touch with you, if they need to?
Please phone the school office on 01887 822300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
“Nicola Ross impressed us with her innovative approach and strong communication and organisational skills”, said Gill Steele, parent council representative on the selection panel that chose Ms Ross for the DHT post. “As acting DHT at Blairgowrie, she started a highly successful freshers week, established excellent links with local businesses which opened up great work experience opportunities for pupils, and improved communication with both parents and pupils. We are looking forward to working with her and the senior management team”.