Putting Staff First: A Blueprint for Revitalising Our Schools, by John Tomsett and Jonny Uttley

“We need to change the narrative around education and what it is like to work in our country’s state schools. We need to build schools where adults and children can thrive, where we put staff first. We need schools where, if you get it right, the job of teaching can inspire sheer joy in entrants to the profession and ‘make old hearts fresh’ again for those in the twilight of their careers.”

Putting Staff First: A Blueprint for Revitalising our Schools – written by John Tomsett and Jonny Uttley, published by John Catt Educational – blends over fifty years’ combined teaching experience with educational pedagogy to insist that the best thing for our country’s children is for schools to put staff first.

Setting out their vision for a revitalised school system which “unashamedly puts staff first”, Tomsett and Uttley pool their diverse experiences – as a Local Authority Headteacher and Multi-Academy Trust CEO respectively – and call for all schools and academies “to improve working conditions for all of our colleagues, irrespective of the structures within which we operate”.

Drawing upon school improvement strategies implemented at their schools and using research evidence from diverse sources, in Putting Staff First Tomsett and Uttley emphasise the fundamental need to ensure that schools prioritise professional learning and manage staff workload if students are to achieve their best possible outcomes. They argue that if we put staff first, our teachers can be happy, healthy, well-qualified, motivated and hard-working; only then can they be their best selves for our students.

Divided into three practical sections with a foreword by Sam Twiselton, Professor of Education, Director of Sheffield Institute of Education and Vice President of the Chartered College of Teaching, Putting Staff First tackles:

  1. Recruitment – how to ensure schools source the best possible staff;
  2. Training – prioritising teacher learning, curriculum development, and moving towards an evidence-informed profession;
  3. Retainment – managing workload, student behaviour, inspection, succession planning and developing a staff-first culture across a school-led system.

Acknowledging the changes in the education landscape since the Academies Act in 2010 “disrupted the structures of the English school system irrevocably”, Putting Staff First looks ahead to 2030, providing a blueprint to secure a world class education for our country’s students.

Professor and educationalist Dylan Wiliam says that in Putting Staff First, “John Tomsett and Jonny Utley provide a clear template that any school leader can adapt for their own context, making it one of the very few books that I would recommend that every single school leader should read.”

Putting Staff First is out now – to order a copy, please click here.