Recognising a star: Fiona O’Sullivan

Posted by Karen

Each month we’ll recognise people who we believe are real stars – those people who communicate, lead and connect to achieve great results.

Fiona O'Sullivan
Photo by Dominic Salter (Manchester Evening News)

This month’s star is Fiona O’Sullivan, Headteacher at Oasis Academy in Salford. This is what the Manchester Evening News said: “A head has taken ‘drastic’ action by expelling students and recruiting new teachers in a bid to transform Salford’s worst school. In July 2014 the £25m flagship Oasis Academy MediaCityUK received one of the most damning Ofsted reports ever given to a school in the city. It was put into special measures after inspectors found poor standards of teaching, bullying and weak leadership.”

Quite a challenge but Fiona has already achieved results and the school has leapt from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’.

30 teaching staff have left and she’s recruited quality teachers. She expelled nine pupils and set high expectations for pupils behaviour. There has been a notable change in the culture of the school.

Inspectors said Mrs O’Sullivan had created conditions for rapid improvement ‘through a combination of clarity, determination and humanity’ adding ‘she exemplifies the school’s ethos which is committed to the success of every pupil’.

So what can we learn from Fiona’s example:

  • Set a clear mission – supporting and inspiring students through developing skills, respect and responsibility.
  • Define your culture through your actions (don’t let it just happen).
  • Set a clear goal and communicate where you are heading.
  • Inspire and motivate your team to succeed together.
  • Take swift action and create consequences when people don’t live your values.

And ultimately she was brave and stepped in where others would fear to tread.

All of this takes great communication skills. Congratulations Fiona and we wish you luck in your on-going journey with Oasis Academy.

You can read more about Fiona’s story here.


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