Cover 9781785907876

An unputdownable true account of how a tenacious head teacher led one of the most challenging schools in the country to excellence.

No Excuses charts an extraordinary principal’s journey from the moment she took over at a failing secondary school in a deprived area, where less than a quarter of children attained five or more A*–C GCSEs, and how she set about the gruelling task of transforming its reputation using her zero-tolerance, tough-love approach.

Armed only with a wicked sense of humour, fearless energy and a powerful vision, Alison Colwell put in place a stringent set of rules, including a strict uniform policy and a complete ban on mobile phones, provoking resistance and hostility from some parents, the wider community and on social media.

This is the darkly funny, moving story of how, together, teachers and their – often troubled – pupils rebuilt a school and community, with an inspirational head at the helm.

Charming, touching and full of brilliant leadership advice, this is the diary of the woman the Daily Mail labelled Britain’s strictest head teacher.


No Excuses is essential reading for any aspiring school leader, authoritatively written by someone with a proven track record in a way that pulls no punches.”

Teach Secondary

“Eye-popping … Colwell’s sense of mission shines through strongly and her joy when children from difficult backgrounds prove they can succeed is heartfelt and genuine.”

Sunday Times

“Anyone who cares about education – and especially those in charge of it – should read this brilliant book.”

Iain Dale
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  • Paperback, 272 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785907876
  • 28 March 2023
  • £10.99
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  • Hardback, 272 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785907388
  • 24 March 2022
  • £16.99
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  • ISBN: 9781785907463
  • 24 March 2022
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