Chris Dale

Director of Teaching and Learning and Research School, Samuel Ward Academy Trust


Leading MAT Level Change in the classroom; mandate or unleash?

The Samuel Ward Academy Trust is a MAT of 19 schools and has more than tripled in size over the last 18 months. This session will outline the journey since January 2017 to start to define and embed a more nuanced, balanced and evidence based approach to teaching and learning.
This session aims to provide a think piece that considers a range of leadership ‘levers’ in driving through evidence based changes within a medium-sized rural Multi Academy Trust. The discussion will attempt to justify and evaluate the impact of these and also consider how to foster a deep motivation in staff to make these changes.
The session will be framed by a brief discussion and reflection on the key principles of the McKinsey report on World leading systems and also Cotter’s 8 Stages for Change Management.
Key is when and how MATs should mandate a policy or leadership action and when to allow more individual school autonomy and freedom. For example, the development of the teaching and learning policy will be compared and contrasted with gaining Research School status and the design of the SWAT Teacher Enquiry Cycle. The session is of interest to colleagues who work within MATs; have leadership roles within or across schools, and those who want to influence and guide.


After graduating with Masters of Engineering and a PGCE from the University of Leeds, I worked as a mathematics teacher in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. After 4 years, I became a Head of Faculty and a leading Mathematics Teacher for Cambridgeshire. I then moved into advisory work, working as County Adviser for Mathematics and eventually Senior 11-19 Adviser in Suffolk. Until January 2017 I worked as Vice Principal at Samuel Ward Academy and led whole school teaching and learning and leadership development. In January I was appointed as Director for Teaching and Learning for the Trust and was also made Director of the Research School following successful accreditation in April 2017.