October 31, 2021

182. Top Tip: Chris Pyle – Head, Lancaster Royal Grammar School: High trust – high challenge & leadership as service

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You always overestimate what you can do in six months and underestimate what you can do in five years.  Rome wasn’t built in a day – but the cement mixers were whirring from dawn till dusk!   
  1. Chris Pyle – Head, Lancaster Royal Grammar School

Chris Pyle is Head of one of England’s oldest and most successful state schools.  Lancaster Royal Grammar School has 1250 pupils including 170 boarders from the UK and across the world.  The school traces its origins to the middle ages.  Today it is heavily oversubscribed with outstanding academic results and extracurricular breadth.  It counts two Olympic gold medallists and a Nobel Laureate amongst its current alumni.  

During the nine years of his headship the school has grown in size and global reach, welcomed Sixth Form girls for the first time, and given priority in admissions to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.  The school’s last boarding inspection said:  “Leaders and managers show exceptional levels of competency and compassion.”   

Chris works closely with the Boarding Schools Association and the Grammar School Heads’ Association.  He was Founding Chair of the North North West Maths Hub which works with 300 schools across Lancashire and Cumbria. He writes on school leadership, and has published numerous resources for A-level geography students on environmental change and natural hazards.   

High trust – high challenge and leadership as service are his leadership themes.  He believes that schools change lives, and that the goal of education is to help every individual to find their voice.   

Chris was previously Deputy Head of the Perse School, Cambridge, as that school grew rapidly and became fully coeducational.  He gained his degree and PhD in physical geography from Cambridge University, worked for a water company, and has served as church trustee and warden.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and member of the Chartered College of Teaching.  Born in South America, he is still working on his Spanish.   

Leadership top tip:  You always overestimate what you can do in six months and underestimate what you can do in five years.  Rome wasn’t built in a day – but the cement mixers were whirring from dawn till dusk!   

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