Executive Recruitment
Young girl with butterfly facepaint

Working in Tower Hamlets

Message from Lead Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Lifelong Learning

Education is very close to my heart and supporting lifelong learning is a priority for the Mayor and the administration. It is vital we deliver on our pledges in supporting young people to have greater life opportunities to reach their full potential and given the tools and opportunities to become the future leaders of the next generation. We are also determined to improve our offer and services for children with special educational needs and disabilities, in particular.

The Tower Hamlets success story of school improvement is the strong foundation upon which we are building. But we are not complacent. The council works closely with our family of schools and the Tower Hamlets Education Partnership to make further progress in narrowing gaps in educational attainment and driving up the quality of teaching. Your role will be crucial in this work, building the effective partnerships and overseeing the local authority services that support our schools and families in this area.

Deputy Mayor Maium Talukdar and Lead Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Lifelong Learning London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Dear prospective candidate,

I hope you find the following gives you an honest glimpse into life working in Tower Hamlets.

We are a vibrant borough to work in. We serve a community where geographically the wealth of the city is juxtaposed with severe levels of deprivation. Through this, we are afforded great levels of opportunity to really make a difference together with a richly, diverse community which I find truly rewarding.

Connections are a strength of the borough and that is why I stay; I am never alone. I am well supported by Headteacher colleagues but am also grateful for other skills and expertise provided; such as the Tower Hamlets Education Partnership (THEP). A partnership that inspires, listens to the needs of schools and is positively responsive. A partnership which is mutually supportive of schools, the LA and its functions.

School development is a continuing strength of the borough and data shows that Tower Hamlets schools do exceptionally well nationally; particularly considering our context; for example, high levels of deprivation and many children newly arrived from other countries with little or no English. Ofsted tell us that 96% of us are Good or better and we believe, each school is unique and exceptional.

Although these times are difficult and there is a high level of uncertainty; this is where innovation lives. (The development of THEP is an excellent example of this.) We are grateful that the council has also managed to retain many services that support schools so well that have since long gone in other boroughs.

We all enjoy working closely with our Directors; resulting in outstanding outcomes for pupils – in lockdown; for example we worked in collaboration to track and support our vulnerable families. Much of this work is continuing to develop as we look to embed it into our practice now and we are working well together to help poverty proof our schools and manage our budgets.

It can be exhilarating to work here but there are significant challenges; and ones we will continue to work on together.

I’ve been in Tower Hamlets for 9 years and I plan to be here a lot longer. There are very good reasons for that! I hope you further discover them as you make enquiries into the role of Director for Education.

Maria Lewington, Head teacher, John Scurr Primary School 

Message from Chair of the Secondary Headteachers Consultative

Working in Tower Hamlets is a huge privilege. It is a borough of contrasts and for that reason, a fascinating and exhilarating place to be: the strap line, ‘the best of London in one borough’ is certainly an accurate description. Tower Hamlets’ proximity to the city, Canary Wharf and London’s universities provides unparalleled opportunities and it is impossible not to appreciate the rich and diverse culture.

Of course there are challenges but our network is lively and committed and absolutely collaborative. It is one of the great strengths of Tower Hamlets that schools and school leaders have a very clear set of shared values and work together for all of our community’s children.

We enjoy a positive relationship with the Local Authority and look forward to working with the person appointed to this role to achieve the goals we all share.

Jemima Reilly, Chair Secondary Consultative

Message from Chair of Primary Headteachers Consultative

Dear prospective Director of Education

Thank you for your interest in joining Tower Hamlets. Tower Hamlets is a unique borough in many ways, geographically, demographically and historically. We are a strong community of schools with a determination to work together to improve the education and futures of our pupils and to support and strengthen our communities.

The primary, secondary and full consultative groups are an established vehicle for school improvement, collective efficacy, support and challenge. Our leaders work together to help shape our educational future. We consist mainly of maintained schools of various designations, with a handful of home grown academies.

Heads and leaders are attracted by the sense of purpose and drive for the common good, embedded in the values and history of what has shaped us. The successes in our education system stems from The Tower Hamlets Story, the journey of improvement that was sparked by failure and being bottom of the league tables many years ago. The work with officers, in partnership with schools, to provide a great education remains, we are ambitious for our children and young people.

If you put down roots in Tower Hamlets, you will be part of a complex and compelling community. I have been teaching in this borough for 29 years. Many of the teachers I met along this journey are now my fellow heads, having grown up together professionally, invested in our children regardless of school designation. Authentic leadership, based on trust, collegiality and healthy competition defines our relationships. We are not complacent, professional development and succession planning is strong, as are partnerships and innovation.

Our challenges like many other authorities are typical of the times; sustaining or organising local government where responsibility for function can exceed capacity, power or influence, and now significant lack of funding.

Balancing political imperatives whilst maintaining the focus on the communities we serve and the education we provide, especially in our increasingly complex and growing number of pupils with SEND, and schools with falling rolls.

Tower Hamlets is an area with the fastest population and building growth in London, financial city in Canary Wharf, the historical parts of the Tower of London, the vibrant and bustling Spitalfields and Brick Lane, juxtaposed with multi-generational poverty and lower life expectancy in parts of Poplar, the beauty of Victoria Park and the Thames mean that although our contexts vary, our values and purpose unite us.

We want a Divisional Director who will share our passion and purpose to serve the children, young people and families whilst championing our amazing family of schools and leaders.

Dee Bleach, Chair of Primary Consultative, Headteacher of Mayflower Primary, Poplar

Message from Director for Supporting Families

Tower Hamlets is an excellent place to work – full of opportunities to make a difference with the children, families and communities which we work with. There are challenges within the borough such as levels of poverty and the density of housing. This means that service delivery has to be of the highest quality, and flexible enough to quickly adapt to changing demand and circumstances. The pandemic also challenged how we provide these services, and respond to the needs of our community. But both schools and staff rose to this challenge with an amazing range of creative and impressive solutions and responses.

Tower Hamlets also has some the most engaged and motivated staff that I have come across during my career. People love living and working in Tower Hamlets. If you choose to come here, you will make a very conscious decision to develop and enrich your professional skills and to make a tangible difference to young children who will benefit immensely from the work that we deliver.

Staff across all of our schools and family support services share these values and you will join a Directorate with a very clear sense of direction and ambition.

Susannah Beasley-Murray, Director, Supporting Families