Head to Head with Executive Principal of Aspirations Academy Trust

Executive Principal, Paula Kenning gives us an insight into her life at Aspirations Academy Trust

Your current title / role

Executive Principal, Aspirations Academies Trust

Brief career background

Maths teacher and more recently 7 years as Headteacher in 2 secondary schools – one in Hertfordshire and the other in Feltham. Co-founded a multi-academy trust in 2011. We now have 12 schools in 3 districts across the UK covering secondary, primary and sixth form including two Space Studio Schools.

What does a typical working day look like?

As Executive Principal it predominantly involves supporting the 12 principals in the trust. A typical day as Principal at Rivers Academy West London in Feltham consisted of ensuring I saw and talked to as many of the 1100 students and 120 staff as I possibly could each day to make sure the school was running smoothly.

What did you have for dinner last night?

I was in Spain so it was tapas! More typically it will be whatever my husband cooks for me – we never eat the same meal twice because he gets bored very easily!

What was the last piece of music you listened to?

‘Let the good times be never ending’, The Charlatans.

What was your favourite and most hated subject when you were at school?

I hated English because my teacher was plain nasty. Latin was my favourite because Mr Spooner would tell us all of the gossip about the ancient Romans. It’s all about the teacher.

What is the best thing about your job?

It’s so incredibly diverse. I’m never, ever bored.

If you could change one thing about the current education system what would it be?

The freedoms in the current education system are fantastic for entrepreneurial spirits and I feel in that respect it’s the best time to be an educationalist. Measuring progress rather than raw attainment is also the best move the government have made for a while. Changing their minds about this without a clear rationale in introducing a 60% floor target is difficult to understand. The exam system is fundamentally flawed and in need of serious review – we’re testing entirely the wrong skills. Consequently young people aren’t ready for the workplace and employers tell us this all the time.