Leadership Project

This project will provide high quality CPD around leadership and wellbeing and enable you and your team to embed the findings in your school. VNET will provide support throughout the year via peer to peer engagement including access to a forum, as well as ongoing support via your VNET associate.

In their book ‘Putting Staff First’, John Tomsett and Jonny Uttley outlined a blueprint for revitalising our schools. Dylan Wiliam described it as “the most complete and compelling vision” he had seen “for a school that places teacher learning at the heart of its endeavours”. In this project, John Tomsett and Jonny Uttley provide a three-strand approach to staff wellbeing which optimises working conditions.


The Putting Staff First project involves:

  • Setting up a Staff Wellbeing Team based upon the Kaizen model of organisational improvement
  • Establishing a Workload Charter which is lived rather than laminated
  • Developing an industry standard succession planning programme which is woven into schools’ performance management systems.

Project Outcomes

  • To improve your school’s operational systems from the bottom up
  • To improve working conditions and so deepen your colleagues’ commitment to the school
  • To enhance your professional development offer and improve staff retention rates.

Session 1


  • Introduction to the three strands
  • What do you want out of it?
  • Building in evaluation from the off
  • Gap task – who, what, when and how many strands 

Session 2

What’s the plan?

  • Refining planning
  • Implementation activities
  • Gap task – detailed planning including baseline data

Session 3

What might go wrong?

  • Checklist: is everything ready 
  • Undertaking a pre-mortem 
  • Final advice on implementation and how to conduct a process evaluation

Session 4

Action and Impact

  • Evaluation
  • What next?
  • Celebration
  • Measuring impact over coming year


Members Resources

John Tomsett

John Tomsett has been a teacher for 32 years and a headteacher for 17 years. He currently leads Huntington School & Research School in York. He writes a blog called This Much I Know, and has written extensively about school leadership. He has published five books: Putting Staff First: A Blueprint for Revitalising our Schools (with Jonny Uttley); Love over Fear: Creating a Culture for Truly Great Teaching; Mind Over Matter: Improving Mental Health in our Schools; An Angler’s Journal; and Cognitive Apprenticeship in Action (editor). He still teaches and is focused resolutely upon improving the quality of teaching and learning, both at Huntington and across the school system as a whole.

Jonny Uttley

Jonny Uttley is the CEO of The Education Alliance Multi-Academy Trust in East Yorkshire and Hull. He has been in post since April 2018, having previously been headteacher at South Hunsley School. All schools in the trust are judged Good or Outstanding by Ofsted and the SCITT was judged Outstanding in Autumn 2019. As a National Leader of Education, he has worked with schools in many different contexts and is committed to a school improvement approach that puts real ethical leadership at the heart of our system, so schools create cultures in which staff genuinely thrive. The Education Alliance is a pathfinder trust for the ASCL/NGA Ethical Leadership Project and Jonny is the co-author, with John Tomsett, of Putting Staff First: A Blueprint for Revitalising Our Schools.

VNET Projects

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