We were invited to submit a proposal to recruit a new principal to The Petchey Academy.  The Petchey Academy is a standalone sponsor academy with 1147 students including a sixth-form. It is named after Sir Jack Petchey, a philanthropist and successful businessman.  Its sponsor is the Jack Petchey Foundation.


The governors were looking to appoint an experienced and exceptional leader to use their skills and strategic leadership to define the course and direction for an even brighter future for the Academy.  Key to their success would be the candidate's ability to raise staff and student expectations of themselves, ensure for a broad and inspiring curriculum, and to work with governors to maintain the Academy's solid financial foundations.

The governors emphasised that the right candidate should be able to build on ‘The Petchey Way’, and bring a student-centred approach and a culture where students are encouraged to develop their talents and interests within and beyond the classroom.


After a consultation to draft an advert, job description, person specification and the options of candidate backgrounds that would be suitable, Candidate is Key began an Executive Search & Selection Campaign which ran for eight weeks with an advert that ran for four weeks.


We engaged with more than 100 people as either a source of information able to recommend suitable candidates, as potential applicants following a search call or as candidates that contacted us after having seen the advert.

  • 120 brochure views

  •  22 applications

  •  12 prospective candidate school visits

  •    5 candidates shortlisted

  •    1 candidate appointed first time


The Search Group leading the recruitment of our new Principal selected Candidate is Key following a tender process. Candidate is Key's proposal and presentation was delivered by Michael Watson.  Michael Watson gave the Search Group his personal attention throughout and responded by return to every query or request. Michael's support was invaluable throughout the recruitment process.  We particularly valued his ability to reduce the administrative and mountainous procedural work which he took off our hands using a structured and systematic method.  This was especially noticeable during the shortlisting process which was very well organised and managed ensuring fairness to all candidates, making sure we only short-listed those that complied with our person specification and which led successfully to our final selection . The two-days of interviews put shortlisted candidates through numerous panel interviews and several desk top exercises on the first day and this was followed by a year assembly and a final formal panel  interview with presentation on the second day. This generated a massive quantity of data and information that Michael and his software helped analyse and identify the strongest candidate. As Chair of Governors and chair of the Search Group,  I particularly valued Michael's promptness at responding to any communication no matter what time of the day it was sent. Michael's knowledge, experience and strong interpersonal skills played a key part in how smoothly and well the recruitment campaign was managed.  We are delighted with the appointment we made. We would have no hesitation in recommending Michael and Candidate is Key for similar senior appointments.

Dorothy Dalton

Chair of Governors

The Petchey Academy


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