Part 3 of our three-part feature detailing Richard Corner’s path from NQT to assistant headmaster within five years. Click to start from Part 1.


In the summer of 2015, I applied for an internal assistant principal position. Although only coming to the end of three years as a qualified teacher, I knew I wanted this next step. I focused my letter of application on how I could make further improvements to teaching and learning across the school.

The interview day was intense. It included delivering an assembly, an ‘in tray’ activity, a data task and a presentation on the challenges and opportunities facing the school over the next three years. A pretty standard interview schedule for this type of role.

Ultimately, I was unsuccessful on this occasion, but received some very valuable feedback and I was offered the chance to be part of the extended leadership team for a year.

What a fantastic opportunity. I was part of the SLT, I attended briefings, meetings and contributed to the decisions being made across the school. Extended leadership isn’t easy; a lot of work whilst still teaching a hefty timetable. But absolutely crucial to development.

Don’t let anybody talk down the importance of these positions to a school and to individuals’ progression.

I was responsible for marking and feedback across the school and coordinating weekly T&L briefing sessions. These responsibilities were perfect for me and I was desperate to improve these areas of the school and therefore move the school forward.


In April 2016, Ofsted arrived and the school was judged ‘good’ in all areas. This was yet another fantastic learning experience. I was able to meet an inspector with the assistant principal responsible for T&L to talk about how we were working to improve T&L across the school and show the evidence of the impact we were making.

To my delight, when the report was published, marking and feedback was identifi ed as a key strength of the school to enable students to make good progress. Many people had put a lot of hard work into this area of the school before I took it over so I can’t claim this to be solely my success, but to read this following the work I’d put in made me very proud.

That summer, another opportunity for an assistant principal came up. This time, with a greater wealth of experience and demonstrable impact within my role, I was successfully appointed to the position. I was an assistant principal after only four years, something my family were very proud of, if not a little surprised.


The job was going well and I was happy with the work I was doing and the impact I was making at the school. But, in early 2017, a fantastic opportunity came up at The Deepings School. Making the decision to apply, interview and accept the job at a new school and leave behind the pupils and colleagues that had been so good to me and shaped my career so far was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.

But now seven months into the job as assistant head, I know it was the right move at exactly the right time. The experience of starting again at a new school and working with different people in different situations has been incredible and invaluable to my personal development.

I am now leading Teaching and Learning and trying to follow in the footsteps of my mentor.

I’ve always had the goal of becoming a head teacher and I know I may still be a long way from realising this dream. But the skills I have developed and the experiences I’ve had have only further fuelled my desire to get there. One day.

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