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 over 100 schools – over 90 Primary Schools, 13 Secondary Schools, 4 through schools for 3-16/19-year-olds and 4 schools for those with Special Educational Needs.
We were asked to support the Authority by raising leadership standards within schools, ensuring that those occupying, and those preparing for leadership roles were fully equipped to do so. Any development solution also needed to support succession planning priorities, developing the next generation of school leaders and ensuring a pipeline of confident, capable leaders equipped to lead schools across the region.
We designed an Aspiring School Leader Development Programme (ASL) [previously called the Aspiring Head Teacher Development Programme AHT] which has been delivered in conjunction with RCTCBC for nearly a decade.
ASL programme objectives are to:
- Enable participants to undertake a school management and leadership role with greater confidence and ability
- Increase awareness of the differences between effective management and leadership and the importance of both
- Equip participants with a range of skills to help them manage people more effectively, including coaching and feedback
- Examine the principles of effective leadership, and how they apply in an education setting
- Help participants understand how the external environment impacts on their thinking and behaviour during constant change
- Explore how values, beliefs and behaviour impact on both those around the individual and their own performance
Since 2012, over 100 participants from RCTCBC have completed the programme, with others from Cardiff Council and Merthyr Tydfil CBC included.
Content for the Aspiring School Leader Development Programme has recently been adapted to more closely align to the Four Core Purposes, including the new leadership and change management requirements of the new Curriculum for Wales. A panel of educational experts advised on the core challenges facing different school, consortia and local authority settings to ensure content supports change and effective leadership where it will have the most impact.
Insight’s programmes have always been designed to support blended learning – we recognise how much perspective is gained outside formal workshops. For the ASL programme, this means:
- Workshops are used as opportunities to regroup and learn models/approaches to support action back in schools.
- Participants undertake independent research on topics affecting education across Wales, presenting their findings and recommendations to the whole group, their Head Teachers and local authority programme sponsors.
- Each participant is allocated an executive coach for the academic year to support real-time challenges and personal development.
- Book and film clubs exploring the depiction of leadership in different contexts are held online as informal sessions in early evening slots to support work/home commitments
- Exploratory MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) sessions are delivered online to support participants’ understanding of themselves and their own preferred style, as well as their impact on others.
Once individuals’ have been accepted onto the programme via an application process managed by the local authority, they:
- Complete the Type Coach personality questionnaire to examine personal preferences when interacting with others.
- Spend time with both the Director of Education and Insight lead facilitator to review their roles and expectations and define their personal and organisational challenges, including a visit to their school.
- Review their personal requirements for coaching support during the programme.
- Over 60% of participants who successfully completed the programme in the first 8 years are now Head Teachers
- An important outcome for the programme is for participants to understand how they want their career to progress. Not all participants have gone on to Headship. Having increased their self-awareness, some (approx. 20%) have decided to remain as assistant, deputy or specialist teachers. This level of self-reflection and commitment to focus on their strengths is equally celebrated by the local authority.
- Feedback from previous participants includes:
“The impact that attending the course has had on me personally and professionally – it’ll never be forgotten. I don’t think I ever would have had faith in my ability before this course.”
“The impact is immeasurable. I would never have had the confidence to do this [Head Teacher role] prior to the LDP”.
- Our client provided the following testimonial:
We have partnered with Insight HRC for nearly a decade on the Aspiring Head Teacher Development Programme (AHT) and can clearly see the impact on school improvement through increased management and leadership capability within our schools, senior leadership teams and our succession planning. Confident, capable, self-reflecting individuals who are committed to continually developing themselves and their teams are critical to achieving our strategic aims. We have observed the benefits to our learners of school leadership teams who role-model effective management and leadership behaviours and create cultures within their schools that will support these aims.
For the vast majority of participants, the training has empowered and inspired them to take the next steps in their careers and to progress with their leadership journeys. Feedback has been consistently and overwhelmingly positive about the transformative impact the programme has had on individuals’ confidence and understanding of key management and leadership practice.
The large number of participants who have gained promotions or secondments as a result of the skills and behaviours developed on the AHT programme is testament to its success. We remain hugely supportive of the programme and its impact on management and leadership capability and school improvement across RCTCBC. The evaluation of this leadership programme suggests that the training has contributed to the significant professional and personal growth of our future school leaders and this professional learning investment that has been thoroughly worthwhile.
You can hear previous particpants talk about their experience and learn more about the programme contents in our video here