Becoming an Academy School in the UK: With Principal

Manchester Academy was one of the first major successes of the 1997 Labour Government's flagship education policy of City Academies. This book tells the story of how that happened. Rather than focusing on the theory of school leadership or ‘Heroic Leadership’, it explores how the original vision for Academies was realised in a significantly challenging and challenged community.

It is a story that will speak to all who work in education, as well as anyone interested in it from a parental or employer perspective. This book challenges some of the recent orthodoxies that can polarise and is a timely reminder that education is more than the sum of its parts. More importantly, it provides compelling proof that a learner's identity does not have to be their destiny.


Kathryn August has spent 45 years working in and for public education. She began her teaching career in inner-city Manchester and went on to hold three secondary headships. She then went on to become Deputy Chief Executive in one of the first multi-academy trusts. She has also been a Director of Education in two Local Authorities and became a Dame in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List.

“Dame Kathy August is one of the most impressive people I have encountered in education. This is the story of a “Principal with Principles” who had the courage and fortitude to tackle one of the most challenging schools and communities in the UK … and succeed. Kathy’s vision and values shine through in this absorbing book which contains important lessons, not only for educationalists, but for anyone who is genuinely interested in how the lives of children can be transformed.”
Les Walton, BA (Hons), Med
Chair of the Association of Education Advisers; Author of Education the Rock and Roll Years

“The best books about education take the reader on a journey and this one is no exception. So many of Kathy August’s experiences will resonate with those who have led the most challenging school communities and helped to give children the start in life that they need and deserve. This is not a leadership book nor is it a book about school improvement. It is a description of a cultural journey where every child who ever attended Manchester Academy matters. It is a reminder of how important the original city academies programme under New Labour was and how it demanded extraordinary things of extraordinary school leaders. Kathy is the perfect example of this and I loved every word.”
Sir David Carter

“What a joy to be asked to comment on such a morally driven and landmark book as Kathy August’s. Her leadership of Manchester Academy from being one of the worst performing schools in the country to its eventual ‘Outstanding’ rating has already achieved iconic status and is the stuff of legends! Kathy August tells the story so well. With her blend of the personal and analytic, she has given us a narrative that sparkles with a brutal honesty and uncompromising belief in the potential of her students and staff. This book, however, is a demonstration of how when a reforming government develops a policy driven by a belief in social mobility, that is then implemented by an educator infused with a similar moral purpose, excellence and equity will be achieved and the lives of young people in that community transformed.”
Professor Emeritus David Hopkins
Previously Chief Advisor to three Secretaries of State of Education

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-5275-8403-8

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-8403-7

Release Date: 6th June 2022

Pages: 125

Price: £62.99

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