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Tom Whittingham

Head of External Developments

Institute of Education

Contact Details


tel: 01905 542371

Before joining the Institute of Education at the University of Worcester in September 2011, Tom gained extensive experience across a wide range of educational settings and organisations.


Tom originally started his teaching career in a secondary school before moving to a middle school and then gaining a deputy headship in a primary school, where Tom taught across the full age range. Tom then became a Headteacher of a Cambridgeshire village primary school at the age of thirty, working in that community for nearly eight years. In 1987 Tom moved to another headship in a larger junior school in Bath; during the seven years there, Tom had three secondments into the then Avon Local Authority as a school adviser.


In 1995., Tom joined the Avon LA on a one year contract as a schools adviser before in 1995 securing an adviser post with the newly created South Gloucestershire Unitary Authority.Tom initially had pastoral responsibility for a group of twenty two schools and settings across the full age range before taking up the post of ‘strategy manager for leadership , management and governornance’. Tom undertook school inspection work with OFSTED, led on authority whole school reviews, was an external adviser for Headteacher performance and a school improvement partner. During this period of work with South Gloucestershire, two significant areas of school leadership were developed under Tom’s leadership:-


1.        A self-sustaining professional learning community was created, called the South Gloucestershire Leadership Academy; this leadership learning community gained national recognition through the DfE’s Beacon Council scheme and Tom led on its development and sustainability programme


2.        A rich and diverse programme of international consultancy work underpinned by professional development ,through extensive international study visits ( at local authority and at school levels). Tom led consultancy work in a wide range of international contexts eg Trinidad to Toronto; Indonesia to Siberia. Tom also enabled over 300 leaders in South Gloucestershire to undertake international study visits, integrating the learning into the expanding ‘Leadership Academy.’ A three day International Leadership Symposium in 2007 attracted almost 1,000 delegates over the three days, from national and international settings.


In September 2008 Tom took up a three year position with SELT ( Southern Educational Leadership Trust) as their Director of Research and Development. Under the chair of SELT, Professor John West-Burnham Tom continued to expand national networks of ‘like minded leaders’ who came together under Tom’s facilitation to deepen and extend their learning, set within a significant period of educational reform. During this period, Tom gave an extensive number of key inputs to national and international leadership learning communities; communities striving to establish effective and self-sustaining learning communities with a key focus on raising performance.


In September 2011, Tom joined the University of Worcester to take up a newly created post of head of external development. Based in the Institute of Education, Tom was challenged to create an alternative pathway for the IOE alongside its core business of student training and CPD. To integrate the numerous networks Tom had formed at national and international levels, into the central Governments coalition reform agenda of effective school improvement. Tom’s work over the past two years has grown exponentially as leaders in the system desire, high quality facilitation, time and space to deepen their thinking and to lead reform, to explore efficiently high quality research and best national and international research and practice. A ‘small team’ of external leaders ( eg practising headteachers, local authority advisers) now support Tom’s work as well as an increasing number of IOE staff. In November 2012 Tom spent three weeks in Melbourne Australia, delivering a number of keynotes on school improvement and educational reform, working with a number of learning communities (school leaders) as well as consulting with a district board (system leaders) who were focussing on effective school to school support. Tom has also hosted a number of international visits, developing a programme of work relative to their contexts and needs. Over a period of five years, Tom designed and delivered a programme called ‘leading and managing change’ to school inspectors, ministers and school leaders in Indonesia. This programme is now being adapted and delivered to other international partners.


Currently Tom is leading the England section of a piece of international research ( seven countries involved) on ‘Trust and Verification; the key to school improvement’. The research is being co-ordinated from Canada by Dean Fink. Tom’s thirst for learning continues, working in collaboration and partnership with an extensive and ever growing number of national and international learning communities.



Associate of the College of Preceptors (Eastern Region)

Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership and Consultancy (Institute of Education, London)

Master of Education (Bath Spa University College)


Teaching & Research

Teaching & Research

Teaching Experience:

Taught across full age range (infant to sixth form)

Two Primary Headships (Cambridgeshire and Avon)

Local Authority Experience:

Adviser (Avon and South Gloucestershire)

Leadership, Management and Governance Strategy Manager (South Gloucestershire)

Research Interests:

Leading and managing change

Creating self-sustaining professional learning communities

Leading learning and teaching

The impact of international leadership learning and study visits

All aspects of professional development

Professional Bodies

Professional Bodies

Graduate of the Institute of Education, London

ASPECT - Association of Educational Inspectors and Advisers

ICSEI - International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement

Ofsted - Additional Inspector

School Improvement Partner

External Adviser - performance review

Partner with National College and British Council




The International Learning Symphony, Improvement Magazine for National Association of Educational Inspectors, Advisers and Consultants, April 2005

Professional Learning Communities - Divergence, Depth and Dilemmas (chapter 5), Edited by Stoll, L. & Seashore Louis, K., McGraw Hill, 2007

Learning to Lead - Learning from International Experience (chapter 11), Edited by West-Burnham, J. and O'Sullivan, H., forthcoming 2012

External Responsibilities

External Responsibilities

Facilitator and external consultant for networks, collaborations and partnerships of leadership learning at local, regional, national and international levels.