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Exploring School Improvement with Gizlée Landman Rss

Exploring School Improvement with Gizlée Landman

Posted on: November 8th 2019

This week, we are excited to announce our newest academy, Harris Academy Clapham opening in September 2020! We caught up with the Head of Academy, Gizlée Landman to sit down and talk to us about the newest addition to the Federation.

Gizlée​ ​has an extensive teaching and school leadership background, having started her career in the UK at a school in Bromley before it became Harris Girls’ Academy Bromley. Moving from Harris Bromley to Harris South Norwood, Gizlée​ was appointed as Vice Principal and saw through the amalgamation of its two sites: South and Upper Norwood. Achieving and maintaining ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted judgements in both sites, Gizlée​​ is also a trained Mental Health Champion with Place2Be. She now oversees the brand-new Clapham Academy as Head of Academy.

What’s your teaching background?

So, I moved to the UK in 2002 and started at a school at Bromley teaching English and Psychology. This school converted to a Harris in 2009/10, becoming Harris Girls’ Academy Bromley. I became Vice Principal there in 2011 before moving onto South Norwood in 2013 as Vice Principal. I then moved to Upper Norwood in 2014 as Head of Academy. At the time, Upper Norwood was in special measures and we managed to move it to Outstanding. It went from being the worst to the best school in Croydon within the space of two years. And then of course, we amalgamated the two sites, becoming South and Upper Norwood.

Within your Harris journey, how did you find your experience moving from school to school?

I think what was good for me was that each time I moved, I had a different remit. At Bromley, I very much had a teaching and learning focus and oversaw all aspects of staff development and training. Then when I moved to South Norwood, I explored more of the Behaviour, Data and Assessment side of things. It actually gave me prudent opportunity to experience all facets of Academy life. In taking on the role of Head of Academy, you have to have oversight of everything. The changes in role really helped me develop the skills necessary to be Head of Academy.

I experienced with Harris, what a school should be like. The school I was at in Bromley, had had 3 consecutive RI judgements and when Harris came in and changed things, it showed me how things could be done differently. The training opportunities I have had with Harris, have been great and I have been able to share these with others. But there is also, a sense that you’re not alone, there is always somebody at the end of the phone to ask, whether it’s finance, HR or teaching. You never feel like you are on your own, you have a dedicated team of professionals behind you that you can call on when you need to. It was a very reassuring feeling knowing I could push on into different Harris academies and still have that support wherever I go.

What can you tell us about the brand-new Harris Clapham Academy?

The new Harris Academy Clapham is the first Harris Academy in Lambeth, and therefore, it is the first time we are moving into this area of South London. It will be an 11-16 school starting with Year 7 in 2020, growing a year group at a time with our first Year 11 cohort starting in 2024. In September 2021, we are planning to open a new Sixth Form centre just up the road from Harris Clapham. So, although Harris Academy Clapham will only be 11-16, we see their time with us as a 7-years journey. It gives them the opportunity to see the longer-term journey with us at Harris Clapham.  This will also offer our younger students mentoring, guidance and support from older students in addition to what we can give them as staff.

In addition to the full national curriculum offer, our students will also study both Spanish and Chinese at Key Stage 3. We know that if you can speak English, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic, your chances of meaningful employment later in life is increased substantially. It is especially exciting to bring Chinese to the curriculum as we will be participating in the Global Youth Ambassador Programme which allows student and staff exchanges with schools in China. I had the chance to visit China last year as part of the programme to set up links with schools, in the hopes to build on improving global education opportunities for both staff and students.

What challenges do you envision facing as Head of Academy of a new site?

Not only are we in a part of London which is new for Harris, but it will be a brand-new academy. For parents, there isn’t an Ofsted report to read, there aren’t any results to reference and there isn’t a building for them to walk around and visit yet. So, it’s about addressing those kinds of challenges as far as we can first. Both Sam Hainey, Executive Principal and I come from a proven track record of outstanding results and successful school improvements so that does help to reassure prospective parents and students. At our recent open events, we had students from our previous academies come and speak to the parents, giving them an insight into what we do, and what it’s like for students to be in a school that we lead.

Another area that is currently a big focus for us is recruitment. Nationally, there is a teacher shortage, Clapham will be no different in facing these challenges. However, knowing there will be opportunities to teach exam classes within a year of opening as well as the unique opportunity to be part of the establishing team of a brand-new academy; we are ensuring that staff professional development is at the centre of this new venture.

What would you like parents to know about the new Clapham?

Once the building is complete, the academy will be absolutely state of the art. Dedicated rooms for delivering the national curriculum, the top floor for example, is purpose built purely for science – separate science class rooms and labs. Teachers can have theory lessons running alongside practical lessons as you aren’t restricted by physical teaching space there. As well as dedicated rooms for art, DT, Music, Drama and Food Tech; all the facilities will be exceptional for the students.

On the other side of that, we are geared towards maintaining focus on genuinely developing the whole child. It’s not just about exam results, which of course are important, but we want a well-rounded child – which is why one of our values is being a global citizen. We need them to be able to function successfully once they step outside of the Academy, having facilitated the development of the skills and abilities for them to do that.

What would prospective applicants need to know?

It will be different from joining an established school, especially in the first few years of the academy’s life. It is absolutely incredible that we can shape the academy as we see fit but we also know that all jobs will be everybody’s job. We will be a much smaller team, especially at the beginning so we will have to work together. It’s all hands-on deck to make sure it all works, but again as a new academy, the professional development opportunities will be exciting and unique. Staff will have the chance to lead on whole school initiatives that you wouldn’t normally have a chance to do so early on your career in a fully functioning school. So, in terms of career and training development, there’s a lot we can offer that isn’t available anywhere else.

Careers with Harris Clapham

We are at the start of an exciting journey, and as our student numbers grow and academy develops each year, so will our academy team. There will be a number of opportunities advertised throughout the year, and we will be looking to hire both teaching and support staff to join the new academy.

Assistant Principal position - on the 15th November 2019, Harris Academy Clapham will be advertising for an AP to join the academy team and help shape Harris Academy Clapham’s vision for academic excellence. For more information about available opportunities at Harris Academy Clapham visit here: Search-our-vacancies

Harris Academy Clapham is part of the Harris Federation, a progressive multi academy trust with a number of exciting new build free school projects planned for opening in the next 2-3 years. As we continue to grow, we are interested to hear from dedicated leaders, teachers and support staff who share our vision for transforming education across London. Whatever stage you are in your career, we can offer you a supportive environment and collaborative network. 

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