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We were invited to help Meadows School with the appointment of a new Principal.  Meadows School is a non-maintained day and residential special school situated in the town of Southborough, between the historic towns of Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells in Kent.  Meadows School is part of the Barnardo’s organisation, a charity providing for young people between the ages of 7 to 19.


The charity and the school governors were seeking a new Principal to help them make that next leap forward. They were looking for someone who would feel comfortable in a vibrant learning environment with a supportive staff and governing body.  The right candidate's aspirations would include keeping Meadows at the forefront of innovation. The successful candidate would need to have an engaging collegiate style, a good understanding of the current safeguarding agenda and understand mental health and wellbeing and social care issues.  Most of all, their talent should take Meadows to new heights and make the school's motto ‘Believe in Me’ an even greater reality.


After input on the advert, job description and person specification, and following a discussion covering the options of candidate backgrounds that would be suitable for the role, we began an eight week Managed Response campaign with an advert that ran for four weeks.


  • 40 brochure views

  •    2 prospective candidate school visits

  •    5 applications

  •    2 candidates shortlisted

  •    1 candidate appointed first time


Barnardo's were delighted with the support and high quality expertise provided by Michael Watson at Candidate is Key.  Michael ran for us a bespoke service with great attention to detail, which fully met our needs at a particularly difficult time to recruit.  To his enormous credit, it often felt as though Michael had been part of our group for a longer period of time, given his exceptional ability at listening and then articulating our requirements, which were further enhanced by his strong set of interpersonal skills.  ​The panel were most impressed with the analysis and advice provided at the shortlisting stage on candidate fit to our specification.  As well as providing a strong sift with strengths and areas for development, it also included suggestions on the type of support that might be necessary for either of the successful candidates.  We would have no hesitation in recommending Michael and Candidate is Key to support an organisation looking to appoint its leader.

Clem Deniran

Assistant Director, Children's Services

Barnardo’s South East & Anglia Region