Within this third instalment of our blog series, Education Wales – Our National Mission 2017-2021, we will explore the second enabling objective of the National Mission, ‘inspirational leaders working collaboratively to raise standards’.
Current reforms within the education sector require prepared and inspirational leaders who are able to lead their organisations through the necessary changes. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicated a need to build capacity at all levels of leadership, in order to enable learners to reach their full potential. In light of these recommendations, the Mission in Wales is to “treat development system leadership as a prime driver of education reform”.
The Welsh Government has planned actions to promote and support effective, collaborative leadership in every facet of the education system. Within this blog we will explore these actions and current progress.
Professional Standards for Teaching and Leadership
The Welsh Government has set new professional standards which describe the skills, knowledge and behaviours that characterise excellent practice and support professional growth. The document set out five professional standards of teaching and learning; pedagogy, leadership, professional learning, innovation and collaboration. These standards “will help underpin the development of the teaching profession as it leads the transformation of our education system in Wales”.
Adapted National Qualification for Headship
The National Qualification for Headship (NPQH) became a mandatory qualification for all teachers transitioning into the head teacher position. This is designed to prepare individuals for the challenging role of headship where additional disciplines and increased pressures are faced. Prior to completing the qualification, applicants are required to have completed an Individual Leadership Review, evidencing their ability to meet the Leadership Standards and therefore determining whether prospective applicants are suitable for such leadership roles. The Welsh Government plans to release a revised NPQH which will support the new Professional Standards for Teaching and Leadership and better equip leaders to plan for the new curriculum.
The National Academy for Educational Leadership, which was launched in May of this year, is committed to “ensuring all leaders in the education system have access to coherent, accessible, and high-quality leadership development opportunities”. The issues within the sector in terms of recruitment and retention are evident within leadership roles, with fewer and fewer applicants for such positions in Wales. NAEL is working “with partners across the system to provide strategic support for those in current leadership roles as well as providing encouragement and inspiration for those who wish to pursue a leadership career in education”. The Academy recently announced their endorsement of the Newly Appointed and Acting Headteacher Programme, in accordance with the action plan of the second objective.
Miller Research undertook brand visioning and user testing, in partnership with Four Cymru, to support the development of the Academy. Through the use of stakeholder workshops and email consultation we were able to devise an appropriate and engaging brand which conveys the vision and values that underpin NAEL. With the mission of “Inspiring Leaders: Enriching Lives”, NAEL will be instrumental in delivering the aims of the second objective and will be a fundamental part of the education landscape.
Expand the utilisation of School Business Managers
To deliver the second objective of the National Mission, the Welsh Government aims to “expand the utilisation of highly skilled business managers in order to provide more effective support for school leaders”. It is projected that the School Business Managers (SBMs) technical expertise in non-teaching areas will allow head teachers and school leaders to focus on teaching and learning and the successful implementation of the new curriculum. Professor Furlong’s review also recognised the need for teachers to be willing to work collaboratively with other teachers and professionals. In pursuit of these aims, the SBM Pilot Project was introduced, a 50% grant funded project with the intention of increasing the recruitment, employment and set up of SBM models in primary school clusters of 11 local authorities.
At Miller Research we are currently conducting an interim review of the pilot, with the aim of producing a model for best practice. The interim evaluation includes a desk-based review, qualitative engagements and a survey. These engagements will provide evidence of successes and challenges which will inform the wider deployment of the SBM model and ultimately provide effective support for school leaders.
By Katie Bedney and Jess Phillips