Prior to this, he had been headteacher of four schools during a period of 17 years in Derby City, Derbyshire and Warwickshire, having commenced his first headship in 2000. All of his headships were at schools which were in ‘difficult situations’, including one that had recently been placed into special measures and one in an inner-city, highly deprived area. In 2013 he completed a Master of Philosophy degree at the University of Birmingham and in 2020 was awarded a doctorate from the University of Nottingham (thesis: examining the relationships that headteachers experience with their sponsor academy trusts).