LM People

Mike Buchanan

Leadership Key Note

A recognised national leader, Mike is an executive and non-executive with experience of strategic management in complex organisations, audit and regulatory compliance frameworks, good governance, successful business and financial management, and positive leadership development including coaching for improved performance. Mike is currently writing a book called Positively Leading.

Described by others as inspiring, calm, consistent, far-sighted, positive, engaging, authoritative, honest, creative, compassionate, determined, reflective, steely, impatient and self-critical, Mike is values-led and his ultimate purpose is to enable people of all backgrounds to flourish and to live joyous, fulfilled lives.

Specialist Area Details

Mike specialises in leadership development, training and coaching, school improvement, compliance and business development in independent and state schools.

My history

Mike’s experience covers leadership coaching and business development with United Learning, one of the largest and most successful multi-academy trusts in England, and as a National Leader of Education, This includes providing leadership development and coaching for senior and aspiring senior leaders; evaluating the business & educational potential of schools; identifying business partners for new international schools and teacher training; reviewing standards, advising on effective safeguarding and organisational leadership, and leadership of Ashford School, Kent.

As Head of Ashford School, Mike oversaw the successful merger of two schools including restructuring culture, climate, people and processes leading to financial and reputational growth and improved outcomes for children. Key highlights were:

  • establishing a strong culture focussed on the pupils’ achievements and personal development and based on individual, adventurous challenge;
  • assembling and refreshing a staff team to model appropriate behaviours and attitudes;
  • enabling substantial, long-term investment by increasing revenue and surplus;
  • establishing a development office for friend/fund raising;
  • overseeing excellent compliance and quality inspections in 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2017;
  • gaining National Teaching School status;
  • ecruiting, training and coaching most of the leaders of the school;
  • monitoring staff engagement to maximise retention and discretionary effort.

Ashford School was named Independent School of the Year 2010/11 and has been nominated three times since in recognition of the innovative nature of the school and its quality.

Mike is an active Reporting Inspector who leads audits of quality and compliance against statutory regulations in all types of independent schools in England. He was an Education Adviser at the London Diocesan Board for Schools, the Principal Deputy Head at Highgate School, London and the Head of Sixth Form at the Royal Grammar School, Guildford. In 2016/17, he was elected Chair of the Headmasters’ & Headmistresses’ Conference, the oldest Head’s association in the English-speaking world with members from leading schools in UK & worldwide. He is a trustee of a children’s charity, a literary festival and several schools.

My contact information

To contact Mike Buchanan please email him at [email protected]


Thoughtful and yet truly charismatic … these are some of the characteristics which make Mike Buchanan an inspiring trainer, consultant and coach. When he has something to say, people listen and he has that rare ability to be a great listener himself. His interested and compassionate manner enables him to nurture others and help them to be the best they can be. When working with groups or individuals, he engages his audiences with anecdotes and an inspiring mix of activities, ideas and practical tools. He is quick to grasp various contexts and this strong insight enables him to support others in an effective, productive and powerful manner often when they are in highly challenging circumstances. He has helped to transform the approaches of Heads as well as senior and middle leaders (teaching and support staff) in both maintained and independent sectors.

Richard Yeates
Regional Director at United Learning Calm

I have enjoyed working alongside Mike Buchanan on a number of projects. He is always engaging, thoughtful and incredibly perceptive. If you are looking for someone who will tailor their work to meet your requirements whilst at the same time challenging you and colleagues to think differently, you won’t find a better person!. He has a unique way of building engagement and promoting thinking in others which I admire enormously.

Andy Buck
Founding Director at Leadership Matters

I have observed Mike Buchanan in various contexts from leading schools, representing Heads in the print and TV media, to organising major conferences with international speakers. In the public eye and privately, Mike relates well to people of all backgrounds borne from his emphatic desire to listen and understand. He is a strong, effective advocate for others and is continually scanning for opportunities which will help others to develop, based on his deep understanding of human behaviour and the elements that lead to happiness and fulfilment. Mike will provide you or your organisation with an objective, dispassionate analysis and help you towards understanding, improvement and fulfilment.

Sir Anthony Seldon
Vice-Chancellor of Buckingham University