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Aspiring Head Teachers

Aspiring Headteachers Programme Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council


Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council is one of Wales’ largest local authorities. Insight has been delivering leadership development, assessment and other development activities to RCTCBC for almost 15 years. The authority has four nursery/Early Years facilities, 117 primary schools, 19 secondary schools and four special schools.

We were asked to support the Authority to develop the leadership capability of senior teachers and to develop a talent pipeline for the future.


Since 2012 Insight has been working with Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council to deliver a Leadership Development Programme for Aspiring Head Teachers. Eight cohorts have now completed the programme with two further cohorts currently mid-way through. The programme has also been expanded to include participants from Cardiff Council and Merthyr Tydfil CBC.

The aim of the programme is to equip talented senior teachers with the skills, understanding and confidence to take on roles as Heads, tackling concerns about a shortage of teachers willing and able to make effective Heads.

The Leadership Development Programme (LDP) is designed so that participants can:

  • Examine the principles of effective Leadership in an organisational context
  • Undertake a people management role with great confidence and ability
  • Understand how the external environment impacts on their thinking and behaviour during constant change and organisational flux
  • Explore how their values, beliefs and behaviour impact on both those around them and their own performance as both leaders and managers
  • Develop a flexible repertoire that increases their ability to deliver success within a leadership and management role
  • Understand and participate in the wider local authority environment


The programme takes a modular approach, linking short workshop style sessions directly to work experience and project-based activity which will support the Welsh Governments’ Continuing Professional Development standards. Throughout the programme, participants are challenged to deliver against personal and organisational goals, reporting back on the impact changes have made. The programme is not intended to provide learning for ‘learning’s sake’ – it is designed to transform participant’s everyday approach.


  • Completion of a Myers Briggs Type Indicator psychometric questionnaire to examine personal preferences when interacting with others.
  • Interviews with both the Director of Education and the Programme Leader from Insight, to review the individual’s roles and expectations and define their personal and organisational challenges for the LDP, including a visit to their school.
  • A review of personal requirements for coaching support during the programme
  • A launch event to welcome participants to the programme and to give formal acknowledgement of their participation.

The programme workshops

  • Workshop 1 Introduction to the programme and key leadership principles
  • Workshop 2 Understanding yourself before leading others
  • Workshop 3 Leading others through a positive organisational culture
  • Workshop 4 Proactive performance management
  • Workshop 5 Leadership and change
  • Workshop 6 Impact and influence

Guest speaker sessions

The programme includes two speaker sessions: typically one featuring talks aimed at personal development and the second education-related. Past speakers have included former Wales Rugby Captain Gareth Thomas, Round-the-world yachtswoman Alex Phillips, Executive Head Sue Thomas OBE and inspirational speaker Linus Harrison.

Coaching Support

Each participant has six one-to-one coaching sessions over the course of the programme provided by the Insight coaching team. This has significant impact by tackling the personal challenges faced by aspiring Heads as they face new experiences and become aware of entrenched unhelpful behaviours. Our coaching sessions focus on exploring and overcoming individual patterns, which are a block to improved performance.


The programme was designed to build a pool of talented leaders who were ready to take on more senior roles.

Of the first two cohorts to complete the programme, all 17 participants have made a positive career move.

In the more recent cohorts, around 50% of participants have made a positive move Three decided that the programme had made them realise that their focus should remain on classroom teaching rather than leadership (and thus preventing poor recruitment decisions being made).

Participants have been overwhelmingly positive about the programme, particularly the one-to-one coaching and many remain in contact with their coaches. Our Client provided us with the following testimonial:

“From a school improvement point of view, the most impressive result I have witnessed is the confidence in the teachers that took part in the programme. It has been fantastic to see their confidence grow and see them developing networks as a result. Aspiring Leaders offers a great platform for teachers to see how their skillsets fit within the corporate world.

Part of the programme saw the teachers completing a ‘100 days of teaching’ task in which they were asked to think about and to present what would be useful for them to do in their first 100 days of being a head of a school. The teachers were able to identify what meetings would be worthwhile, get clarity on their vision and wants and needs, and this task performed almost as a ‘self-help’ guide for getting stuck into the positions they have their sites on taking in the future.

Before, during and after the programme we tried to pin point each individual’s levels within the current Welsh Government Leadership standards, and with every single one of the participants, we saw their leadership skills improve against the Welsh Government criteria.

Of the first cohort that we have put through the programme, all 17 have since made a move (either seconded or promoted) since completing Aspiring Leaders. Impressively, three of the individuals who were primary practitioners are now heads!”

Sue Walker, Head of Achievement (Primary), RCTCBC

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