Meet Sue Macgregor, Alps Director of Education and Product Development

20th March 2023

Over the years, you may have met Sue at Conferences, listened to her webinars or read her fabulous blogs and guides. This month we sat down with Sue to find out more about her fascinating career background as Deputy Head at Windsor Girls’ School, how Alps supported her during this role and what her biggest achievement has been as our Director of Education and Product Development.  

Hi Sue, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your career background?   

When I started at Arbroath High School in 1982, I remember telling a beloved teacher of my dreams to be as good a teacher and role model as he was to me. He told me to do anything but teach – too much bureaucracy he said, despite being utterly committed to giving his best self to every one of his students. Twelve years later I embarked on the most splendid of journeys taking me from teacher training in Aberdeen, ultimately to Head of Science and then Deputy Head at Windsor Girls’ School. Hard at times for sure, but what a privilege to teach amazing people and to have a small hand in shaping their future. I have never regretted the choice. 

What drew you to Alps during your time at Windsor Girl’s School?   

If I am honest, we hadn’t embraced the whole Alps philosophy in the early years. Previous leaders at WGS had already made the switch to Alps and we were just using it to review our examination performance. 

As a new leadership team, we needed to focus on A-level improvement, and we needed analysis that told us the truth of where our progress sat in the big picture. So, we dusted off our Alps report and got to work. This was a real turning point because we could submit our in-year tracking data and get analysis when we needed it most – right there and then. It was so powerful because you can’t argue with a blue thermometer – it is what it is, and we wanted to look that square in the eyes. 

How did Alps help you in your career as a Deputy Head?   

As a whole staff body, we were committed to our school improvement journey. As DHT, I was the Alps Champion for A level improvement at WGS, but it took every one of us to drive that change over several years. Together we ensured that the aspirational Alps philosophy was embedded in our processes, in the conversations we had with each other, our Governors and our students. It made a real difference. We received an Outstanding Ofsted rating and this relentless focus on improving standards through Alps was part of that toolkit. It brought simplicity over complicated data discussions and it tied in with our ‘can do’ culture.   

So far, what has been your biggest achievement during your time as Director of Education & Product Development? 

I genuinely believe that when Leaders use Alps as a tool for improvement rather than an accountability ‘stick’, it makes a difference. That’s why I started working for Alps. Now I get to make a difference to our product through my work with my talented colleagues in our Engineering and Product Development Teams. Another privilege. Together we have established working relationships based on trust and respect. We are candid with each other and this helps us to improve our processes and ultimately our product. We are a relatively young team in terms of our work together, but like that thermometer, we look any ‘blue’ in the eye and strive to improve all the time. That’s what I deem our biggest achievement because it is the foundation for success in building products that make that difference to our teachers and our school leaders.  

What advice would you give someone wanting to start a career in Education product development? 

I am not sure I am qualified to give advice here, but I will say that leaving teaching was an exceptionally difficult decision. In my soul I am and always will be a teacher, and there are times when I miss it dreadfully. My experience as a Senior Leader, walking the walk every day has been crucial to my role here at Alps – I reflect on it daily as we consider the future vision for Alps Connect and Summit. Therefore, for me, I could not direct our product development without my teaching experience and a genuine passion for encouraging our young people to be their best selves.  

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