Talking Heads Blog #35: Mark Unwin

Leadership Biography

Name: Mark Unwin

Phase: Primary & SEND

Sector:  Currently Local Authority (about to become Lead school in a MAT)

Region: Cheshire East

Years Served in Education: 11

Years Served as a Headteacher: 3

Leadership Journey:

Teacher; Numeracy Leader; SLT; Acting Deputy; Deputy; Acting Headteacher; Headteacher; COO

Leadership Coach/Mentor/Inspiration:

Rebecca Harris (formerly of Hampstead Parochial) & Mr TR Seddon (my old primary school Headteacher)

Twitter Handle: @misterunwin           


Leadership Reflections

Why do you teach?

Because: I love it (still); it’s the best job in the world; it makes me feel immensely lucky; at the end of the year there’s a finished product i.e. wonderful children, rather than just a pile of cash and because I used to work in business and although I really enjoyed it, it had no sense of moral purpose and I take that part very seriously – it gets me up in the morning.

Why did you become a Headteacher?

I have been incredibly lucky to work in five very different schools in a very short period of time and have gained an immense amount from that experience because of the wonderful teams of people and Headteachers I’ve worked with. Along the way, I’ve been lucky enough to be exposed to the most fantastic advice about how to create an awesome school and I wanted to put all that different advice into practice to make a difference to children that wouldn’t normally have access to it. I am the biggest ‘magpie’ and I wanted to help a team of people build an exceptional school that captured the best features that I’ve seen work so well elsewhere.

How do you talent spot/nurture aspiring leaders?

One of the biggest differences from working in business is the structure of Leadership Teams. In Education, they are often, in my experience, very hierarchical – you don’t often find that in very dynamic, fast-moving, forward-thinking businesses. I believe that creating a very flat Leadership structure,, with lots of distributed leadership and the opportunity for teachers and phase leaders to affect real change creates a culture where aspiring leaders can shine.

How would you like to affect change in the system?

I would like to create a joined-up curriculum model that links primary and secondary and in particular provides a bridge from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 so that the excellent progress that pupils make in Primary, continues and accelerates in the early stages of their secondary education. I would also like to shine a light on the national scandal that is the treatment of families with a child with SEND. In particular, the admissions process and the unequal distribution of children across schools, whereby schools refuse to adapt to the needs of pupils with SEND locally and they are forced to be educated outside their local community.


What is your vision for education?

The ALL children (from birth to work) should benefit from the very highest expectations of academic success, behaviour, excitement and fun.

What makes you get out of bed every morning?

The opportunity to make a real difference and involve myself in the things I love.

Leadership Advice

“Eat a Toad for Breakfast”

Get the grim jobs out of the way early, so you don’t stress about them all day.

Leadership Inspiration

The biography of Muhammad Ali. Has re-affirmed my belief that if young people are sufficiently inspired to practice hard enough, they can shake up the world.

Leadership Mantra

Work Hard; Be Nice to People; Create Something Beautiful.


One thought on “Talking Heads Blog #35: Mark Unwin

  1. All makes sense to me son, I smiled when I saw Mr Seddons name, very wise lovely man.
    Very proud and pleased you have achieved your present position and am sure your journey has further to go, Ken Field always said you’d make a good teacher.
    Onwards and Upwards, remember NEVER take your eye off the ball🤓🏌😍


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