How I can help your school: Introducing Head of Helpfulness at We Are In Beta

Frances Ling
Mar 8 · 5 min read

I’m Frances (often Fran) and it’s great to meet you!

I joined Niall at We Are In Beta in January taking the enviable title of Head of Helpfulness, and as we asked you to tell us a bit about you, it’s only right I take this chance to introduce myself to you.

Head of Helpfulness? Really?

We Are In Beta is on a mission to share the stories of incredible school leaders and teachers across the country, seeking to counter what can sometimes feel pervasive mainstream negativity about education and schools.

By sharing personal and positive stories in the podcast, Niall has built a committed and engaged community of listeners who believe in our mission. And to best understand and serve their needs, and reach out further, Niall created my role — and yes, Head of Helpfulness is the best job title ever!

How can I help you?

I’m here as the eyes and ears of our community of listeners and guests, talking to individuals to understand their needs and challenges, and connecting those who can offer help by sharing practice that is remarkable and deserves to be celebrated.

My role is to help you with…

  1. Connecting: You have a challenge and want to know how others are tackling it. I can connect you to someone in the community who has seen success. Or you have an area of practice you’re proud of and would love to share. I’ll give you the space and help do that.
  2. Promoting: When you’re recruiting, I can share it to the full community or those I know are looking for roles like it. If you’ve just got your latest Ofsted outcome, or achieved a career or personal goal. I’d love to help you celebrate it. You’ve written a blog or a book, or are running an event. I will spread the message and help promote it for you.
  3. Researching: I seek out all the pieces I can find about what is going on in schools across the country so if you’re looking for a school to help you on something specific or you’re wondering what events are coming up or what CPD/support is available. I can point you to them or find them for you.

How did I get here?

I’ve been an avid listener to the podcast from the early days, having been drawn in by the episodes from Elroy Cahill, Linda Emmett, Hannah Wilson and Evelyn Forde as people I had invited to speak to groups of aspiring and new heads in my previous role.

From these personal connections, I was hooked on We Are In Beta as a treasure trove of stories from remarkable people, open and generous enough to share their wisdom and perspectives on the biggest challenges in education.

Then Niall tweeted to advertise a new role…

…and Emma Turner spread the word about it here…

…and my friend Becky tagged me in to let me know about it!

After the little nudging to be #10%braver from my dear friend Becky, I got in touch and put in an application….after two (very!) long but fun interviews, I was over-the-moon when Niall called to offer me the job.


So who am I?

I started my journey in education by training to be a physics teacher in West Yorkshire. I loved so much about teaching: working with young people, sharing my love of my subject, the light bulb moments when something ‘clicked’, and working alongside passionate, committed and fun colleagues who loved what they did.

However, I also found my training tough and saw things about schools, and the culture within them, that I found hard to accept. Often rooted in limited aspirations for pupils, especially those from poorer backgrounds, but also staff cultures that were far from positive, and in a few instances outright toxic.

This led me away from the classroom but with an even stronger desire for impact in education and since then I’ve had the privilege to take on some amazing roles and projects to do just that. This has included diversity and inclusion in physics education and employment; co-founding a charity to use low-cost approaches to teach practical science in Ghana; supporting an amazing group of Middle Leaders in the North West; and most recently helping those stepping into headship for the first time in schools in challenging circumstances.

Now, alongside working with Niall, I am chair of governors for a beautiful and growing free school in Manchester, a girl guide leader and prepping an application for an EdD on what it takes to fix broken schools.

What next?

I am incredibly excited for my role working with the We Are In Beta team to tell even more stories, reach more people, engage with the most stubborn challenges and deliver positive, personal and practical impact for schools and educators to learn and grow together.

It is one that perfectly brings together my passion for the power of education to change lives, and my belief that this can only be achieved in the hands of skilled and dedicated people, working in environments where they are professionally supported, developed and fulfilled. There is a lot to do, but I know that together we can get there!

If this speaks to you too, three reasons to get in touch would be:

  1. Tell me about success you are having that deserves to be shared with others
  2. Ask me to connect you with someone solving a challenge you are facing
  3. Give me links, resources, job ad’s, events or requests for me to share with the amazing We Are In Beta Community

Even if you don’t have one of these right now, I love saying Hello! and getting to know people who share a passion for education and working together to support every child to succeed.

You can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn, or email me on frances@weareinbeta.com.

If you’re new to We Are In Beta, thanks for joining us and you can catch up on previous We Are In Beta podcast episodes here.

If you’d like to access links to all of the research, slides, models, resources and books mentioned in podcast and hear from our community, sign up to the free We Are In Beta Newsletter.

We Are In Beta

We — the education community — are in beta: always…

Frances Ling

Written by

Head of Helpfulness at We Are In Beta

We Are In Beta

We — the education community — are in beta: always learning.

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