Highly respected education leader to review Equality, Diversity and Inclusion across Partnership

Wednesday 10th January, 2024

One of the UK’s most highly respected education leaders says she is ‘very excited’ to work with the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership to help define its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy.

Ava Sturridge-Packer CBE will be working with the multi-academy trust, which consists of 22 schools and one teaching school, in Birmingham, Coventry, North Warwickshire and Staffordshire, with more than 10,000 students and over 1,000 members of staff.

Her role with ATLP will include working with the Partnership’s leaders and staff to help build a robust and effective EDI policy, while also engaging with individual schools and supporting communication and resolution in specific cases.

A teacher of huge experience, at a variety of contexts in the West Midlands and beyond, Ava was appointed a National Leader of Education and her school achieved a Teaching School designation. Ava was Head at St Mary’s C of E Primary School in Handsworth for 22 years, leading it from Special Measures to Ofsted Outstanding. Over the years she was seconded from St Mary’s as Executive Headteacher to a number of schools, where she made a significant difference to children and families.  In January 2000 she was awarded a CBE for Services to Education. 

“I’m very excited to be helping ATLP on its journey to improve the Partnership’s EDI strategy,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to supporting the Partnership strategically with EDI, as well as helping individual schools to understand how to better apply policy in a practical way. I will also be meeting parents as well, where they have views that they want to share.

“It’s an opportunity to help one of the most respected educational trusts shape an important policy, so I’m very excited about it!”

As part of her work, Ava hopes to also have input into shaping ATLP’s recruitment policy.

She previously worked for the DFE on a two-year Recruitment and Retention project, and worked with a group of Birmingham-based senior professionals who were funded by the National College to support diverse leaders on their pathways to success.

She explained: “By looking at recruitment, and the retention of staff, we can create pathways for people who are from diverse backgrounds, to promote a more representative mix, which is very important.”

For many years Ava worked as part of the National College Headteachers Reference Group, and has regularly worked with a number of MATs in Birmingham and across the country, carrying out school improvement work and Headteacher performance management reviews.

“In a sense, it’s about opening the doors a little bit wider for people. We should make sure that there aren’t barriers that stop people from going up the ladder, and accessing opportunities that will benefit the trust and the children and families.

“At the school level, I’ll be doing things like looking at the school environment with the leadership team, and advising them in terms of resources, books and curriculum design.”

A former Ofsted Inspector, Ava was a member of the DFE’s writing group for the national Teachers’ Standards, and was last year made an Honorary Fellow in the College of Social Sciences by the University of Birmingham, where she has regularly chaired leadership seminars. 

As a member of the Windrush Generation – she first came to England as five-year-old child – Ava’s background as a trailblazing Black teacher has given her a valuable insight into issues of equality, diversity and inclusion.

She said: “I think that the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership and its leadership team should be commended for grasping the nettle and being brave enough to say that ­- while things have certainly moved on from where they were previously – they are still not good enough and there are always improvements that can be made in education, to quote Sir Tim Brighouse from the past.

“It’s about improving on your previous best, and always striving to move forward and learn,” said Ava, who cut her teeth teaching at Wylde Green Primary School, in Sutton Coldfield, with her first significant promotion as Head of First School there. She still lives in the area.

Over the last 15 years, Ava has been a judge for the Pearson National Teaching Awards, travelling the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, visiting the best primary and secondary schools nominated for best practice in a range of areas.

“In my work, I want people to feel that it’s a partnership, and develop a relationship of trust so that we can grow together.”

She added: “This role working with ATLP might be my swansong at the end of my education career, but I’m looking forward to joining them on their journey – and I hope that in a year or two we will be able to see evidence of progress, in tangible terms and that awareness has been raised significantly across the Partnership.

“Getting EDI right in education is incredibly important, because what happens in our schools impacts on all aspects of society. Schools can bring about real change.”

Richard Gill CBE, the CEO of ATLP, said: “I am delighted that an educational leader of the standing of Ava Sturridge-Packer will be helping ATLP along its journey to reinvigorate our approach to EDI, both in terms of a broad strategy and also how it applies on the ground, in our schools, with our leaders and staff.

“Ava’s background, experience and considerable achievements make her the ideal person to guide us as we engage with these very important issues.”


Ava Sturridge-Packer CBE will be working with ATLP to help define its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy.