Leaders & Mentors: Preparing the Youth

Published: 31st October

Lilian Baylis School in Lambeth was the archetypal struggling and much forgotten inner city comprehensive school.

Historically at the bottom of the pile and once even referred to as “England’s worst-performing school” by The Guardian, it was failing by any measure you may apply. So much so, that Ofsted had placed it under ‘Special Measures’.

Gary Phillips arrived as the new Head in 2000, the 6th in 5 years, and started the most incredible of transformations – since 2013, Ofsted rates the school as “outstanding in all areas”.

Changes that are this profound and far reaching usually start when someone can articulate an inspirational vision of the future. However, that is rarely enough on its own, it also needs someone to own that vision and deliver it – that Leader was Gary Phillips.

Far too many years ago, Gary contacted me and asked me to come and give a talk to his pupils at Lilian Baylis School which was going through its transformation to becoming a Technology School. 

I can remember it like it was yesterday.  Gary was an understated but extremely powerful and unmissable presence. The students, the teachers and Gary himself left an indelible imprint on my mind.  The talk appeared to go down very well, but I am sure I was to remember them for far longer than they would ever remember me.

So therefore, earlier this year we contacted Gary with a view to kicking off a mentoring scheme for his most precocious students.

We have been to the school a few times now, and we have had the pleasure of having a number of volunteers from our network who are keen and prepared to give up their time to help these wonderful students fulfil their massive potential. 

It was a timely coincidence that National Mentoring Day was held last week as it also marked the beginning of what we see as a ground breaking mentoring scheme at Lilian Baylis.

After this initial term, we will be recruiting further mentors in the New Year… Watch this Space!

It’s worth remembering that “good leaders create followers and great leaders create leaders”.

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