Luton Chiltern Academy, which has more than 1,168 students, is part of Chiltern Learning Trust, a variety of multi-academy for local and national organisations. The Academy, opened in 2018 in temporary accommodation, relocated a year later to a £ 20 million purpose-built school building in Luton Gipsy Lane.
Ian Douglas, headteacher of this outstanding academy is committed to excellent standards of teaching and learning and helping raise the attainment of all local students.
1. What has been your path into your current role?
Upon finishing school, I joined the Army. I left after 5 years, undertaking a range of jobs from welding to van driving, then began coaching swimming; I enjoyed teaching and decided to go back to college for 5 years to become a Newly Qualified Teacher. Immediately, I got on well with pupils and staff, managing to work my way up through a range of leadership positions, spending 16 years at Denbigh High School, transforming it from a challenging to an excellent school. Thereafter, I secured the Headship at Chiltern Academy.
2. Why did you choose the field of education?
Having been involved with the teaching and coaching of swimming, I enjoyed working with young people and realised the impact you can have on a young person’s life and how rewarding it is to see young people learn, develop and grow, turning into mature young adults. Whilst it is a challenging field to work in, in my opinion, it is the most rewarding field. I now have many of my old pupils who are teachers, working with me here at Chiltern Academy. That bond is a lifelong bond.
3. What are your challenges managing Chiltern Academy?
By far, the biggest challenge in education is the recruitment of new teachers into teaching positions. There is a national shortage and we have to work very hard to secure the best teachers, as they have the biggest impact on young people.
4. What are your aspirations, and expectations?
My aspirations are for the children; that they leave us as healthy, successful, well-rounded individuals, who can live comfortable lives and contribute to society. My expectations are that children work hard, and be polite and respectful. My expectation of staff is that they commit fully to our pupils, to ensure they get the best education we can offer.
5. Chiltern Academy was opened in 2018, and your first ever Ofsted report this year was good. Did you expect that?
Our first grading was good with some outstanding features; I did expect this as having worked in an outstanding school, it can take a long time to build traditions, routines, and culture of outstanding practice, and to embed it fully within the school. Ofsted gave a good reflection of our school and a grounding to push forward to be fully outstanding, which I expect us to be. Without GCSE results, it is difficult to secure a fully outstanding judgment, and that was made clear to us when the inspecting team came in.
6. Parents and pupils are proud of your school. What do you do to sustain this reputation?
First and foremost, as I alluded to earlier, it is vital we continue to recruit and retain the best staff possible. Whatever school you work in, children lead similar lives; eating the same foods, listening to music, and wearing similar clothes…however, it is the adults who instill the culture, values, and ethos. Moving forwards as a school, whilst our PSHE is outstanding, there are still areas we need to work on with young people and this is one of the things that makes the school special; where they learn their values and zest for life. Reputations are hard to build but easy to lose. Ours are built on a solid footing of the hard work of staff, buy-in from parents, and the enthusiasm of young people. We need to maintain this as we move forwards.