National Award for Middle Leaders 2015-16
“The middle leadership course consisted of 10 modules which were all relevant and contained a reflective element, giving us the opportunity to think about how we could improve our areas. It has helped me to develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be a middle leader and how I can improve and manage my areas of responsibility more effectively.
One of the first modules we looked at was 'vision and values'. This module encouraged us to think about the vision for our school as well as the vision for our area. I had never really thought about this before and I found it particularly useful because I had just taken on a new responsibility – implementing a new initiative. It allowed me to think about how I wanted the initiative to work and how I could organise the planning and resources to best suit the pupils’ learning. After this session I implemented a new, clear planning format which provided a consistent structure and enabled my TAs to be confident in setting up for each lesson.
Another module that I found particularly thought provoking was called ‘developing your leadership approach’. This gave us the opportunity to look through recent research based on leadership styles. It is hard to find time to look through new research and so this I found particularly beneficial. Although I was aware of different leadership styles, I had never really thought about my own leadership style. It has been useful to look at the leadership styles of some of my colleagues and consider what sort of leader I want to be.
Also the 'supporting your team' and how to provide guidance through coaching and mentoring was very beneficial and relevant. This year in particular I have noticed that more teachers have approached me to ask for my advice about how to run certain activities and strategies they need in place for specific individuals. I am honoured that my colleagues recognise my skills and have always been willing to support them where I can. I found it very interesting to learn the difference between coaching and mentoring and when each should be used. For example, coaching is better if you want the individual to think for themselves and expand on their current skills, mentoring is better for when the individual needs more direct support. This module also helped me with how to provide constructive feedback to some of my team members including one of the apprentices in my class who was struggling quite a bit at the beginning of the year. This module gave me the confidence and a deeper understanding that by having these difficult conversations with certain individuals it will support their continuous improvement as well as benefit the whole teams.
Throughout the course, there are lots of opportunities to discuss all the topics through the use of activities and planned discussions. My colleagues and I who were on the course all agree that it was really useful to be able to talk through some of the challenges that we face in our job with other middle leaders.
This is my final year working at Perseid school and being able to put this qualification down on my application definitely helped in my securing my new job for September. I’m very grateful that I have had this opportunity and it has helped me to think about what I need to do to hand over my areas so they can carry on improving and benefiting the pupils’ learning."
NaSENCO Training Award – 2015-16
“Having the opportunity to learn through personal reading and through the contact days and all the presentations. This really helped me to develop confidence in the role of new SENCO as well as shape my vision for send provision at school. I had never stood back and reflected on SEN and asked questions about inclusion and 'difference'. My mind was stretched to new ways of thinking. I also quickly learnt and this was great because I needed to know such a lot as soon as I started the job. Part of me questioned whether it would have been better to work as SENCO for a year first and then do the course, but now I think it was probably better to have done it straight away. Although it was a very steep learning curve and hard work.
The local aspect of the course was so helpful for me. We were the first SENCOs to benefit from the local Merton approach. We all found the smaller Merton contact days really practical and challenging. Meeting the faces of the people in Merton we needed to connect with was also very helpful. It made it personal. I think we were so lucky to have the opportunity and it was a real advantage.”
Headteacher and Leadership Team Coaching and Mentoring Support 2015-16
“Our school’s journey of leadership coaching began soon after the inspection of 2014 at which we were judged to be Requiring Improvement. The school had recently restructured its leadership team and had begun to make improvements, but the challenge of putting together a new team would be a significant factor in enabling the school to improve rapidly.
The sessions have taken the form of
- individual coaching for the Headteacher,
- preparation for the Headteacher in planning the leadership team session, and
- group coaching with the leadership team
which were originally timed in with the John Yates Leadership training course.
From my perspective as Headteacher, the sessions have enabled me identify the key drivers that are either bringing success or offering challenge/blocks to improvement. The sessions have been challenging in identifying which of the elements are within my control, that are borne out of the actions of others, challenging and shaping the actions of others, seeing through key points of action.
The sessions are always challenging, but enable a real reflection upon actions, language, body language and plans for improvement. We have been able to tease out either large scale issues or those tweaks that need to be put in place. The sessions have also enabled me to see the individual strengths and development points within the leadership team, including my own development points and areas for improvement. The sessions have enabled me to structure my conversations with individuals and small groups of people, but essentially have enabled me to secure the right outcomes for school improvement, whilst managing people’s emotions and what they bring to that conversation.
The leadership team sessions have been particularly useful in enabling each member to reflect upon his/her own perspective, the perspective of the other team members and how these are enabling improvement or otherwise.
I believe that the sessions have had a direct impact upon
- managing staff (including managing career moves),
- how we structure the improvements in the classroom,
- targeting the cohesion of the team as a whole, and
- my own development as a leader.
School improvement still remains a challenging task, in fact even more so now that the school has been graded as Good (Ofsted, May 2016), but the coaching programme has enabled all members of the team to tackle the most important matters.”