Key Voices #90 – Collaboration, innovation and creativity with Desmond Deehan

“There are the leaders that make you aspire and the leaders that make you perspire.”

This week I talk to Desmond Deehan, CEO, Odyssey Trust for Education. The trust is an unusual collaboration between a girls grammar school and a local secondary modern. Desmond has taught in a wide range of schools and his leadership style is heavily influenced by thinking creatively and trying new things. 

We discuss:
  • Desmond’s background and career in teaching and the ideas that have influenced him 
  • How participating in a BBC 2 documentary kick-started the collaboration between Townley Grammar and Erith school, that eventually became the Odyssey Trust for Education 
  • Working with each schools’ community to tackle any opposition to grammar schools and academy trusts
  • The schools’ experiences of COVID-19 and how beneficial they found it to be working as a trust
  • How he has personally found the transition from Head to CEO 
  • Desmond’s plans for the future


“Before you can be understood you have to learn to understand.”

“We need to realise these solutions aren’t going to come from the government, any government or the Department for Education. We will create the education for the future on the ground, in our trusts and with our communities.”

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