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Kulvarn Atwal presenting at a lecture

“There are massive benefits of staying in touch with the university. A sense of pride at sharing your experiences, showing current students what’s possible and perspectives from those who have been part of the fabric of the university and sat on the other side.” Kulvarn Atwal, BSocSci Economic History, 1995

Kulvarn Atwal is a graduate of the University and an East London head teacher highly regarded for his work in school improvement and teacher development. He recently returned to Birmingham to share his expertise at the launch of the University’s new Education Leadership Academy - a centre which aims to develop education leaders in the UK, UAE and throughout the world.

“I learnt a lot at Birmingham from meeting people from different backgrounds and testing myself intellectually.  My time here was a real learning curve and it’s a real experience to come back to talk to students just starting on their own leadership careers within education.”

Highfields School, where Kulvarn is Head teacher, has seen vast improvements in outcomes for its children and has been awarded a ‘Schools of Success’ award from the Mayor of London for three years running.  He has also recently published ‘The Thinking School’, a guide to the innovative techniques and practices which he has developed during his career in teaching.

“I’ve always been fascinated by teacher learning from very early on in my career. Despite working in education, the school learning environment for teachers is very restricted and teachers aren’t given the opportunity to keep learning themselves. If you compare a school to a hair dressers salon for example, there are far better opportunities for someone to learn, develop, research and innovate in that profession than for a teacher.  We need to create a culture where teachers can be innovative, creative and make mistakes and that’s what I advocate with the Thinking School.”

If you are interested in sharing your own expertise or career journey with current students, please get in touch to

Find out more about the Education Leadership Academy or follow on twitter @ela_uob