Exciting announcements this week herald the next phase of leadership development for teachers across the country.
The new suite of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) has been reviewed and reformed by expert working parties, and three exciting new programmes have been created.
Windsor Academy Trust has been delivering the national professional qualifications since 2003, when there were just three qualifications. Since this time, the Department for Education (DfE) has continued reviewing and refining the qualifications to keep aligned to the research and changes in roles within schools.
This blog looks at three new NPQs that have become part of the refined suite of qualifications, exploring their focus, why they are a welcome addition and who they will support.
The first significant change recognises that the current NPQML, targeted at middle leaders, has not focused on the essential pastoral roles that middle leaders tend to inhabit.
Previous assessment criteria have required pupil achievement outcomes, which is often not the immediate outcome of many behaviour or attendance or engagement projects. Consequently, this new qualification, the National Professional Qualification for Behaviour and Culture, is a welcome refinement.
This NPQ is for heads of house, year group leads and others who have significant pastoral responsibilities.
Distinct new sections of the qualification include school culture and enabling conditions for good behaviour and complex behavioural needs. These are reviewed alongside middle leaders’ responsibilities around teaching and the professional development of staff within the team.
The second new qualification targeted at middle leaders is the National Professional Qualification for Leading Teaching. This qualification places greater emphasis than previous NPQs on the evidence base behind leading and developing great teaching. It has an extensive curriculum which has at its heart includes: How pupils learn, classroom practice, subject and curriculum and assessment and adaptive teaching.
There is a clear drive in the content to ensure that all leaders across the country are aware of the evidence base around what makes great teaching and how middle leaders can support others to enhance their practice.
These two new qualifications are very much welcomed. They offer the opportunity for a level of specialisation for middle leaders, recognising their different roles in school and how these might be best supported.
These programmes will have a minimum of 50 hours of learning material over 12 months.
The third addition is the NPQ for Leading Teacher Development.
This programme recognises that leading the development of other teachers is complex yet essential. It is based upon Robinson’s 2009 research that indicates that the greatest lever in school improvement is teachers' excellent development.
This qualification is for school leaders who have or are aspiring to have, responsibilities for leading the development of other teachers.
Those in this role need to have expertise across several specialist areas related to designing and implementing professional development. They also need to share in-depth knowledge about what the research-base tells us about great quality teaching.
This new qualification will likely have some central funding as it is part of the DfE’s broader changes to the education landscape, including implementing the Early Career Framework.
These three new programmes will continue to be offered alongside the NPQ for Senior Leadership, NPQH (with additional support for new Headteachers) and the NPQ for Executive Leaders.
The assessment process for all of these qualifications will be different going forwards.
Assessment will no longer be based upon an in-school project delivered over two terms. Instead, leaders will be presented with a case study that they must interrogate over an eight-day window and respond to in 1,500 words.
This significantly reduces the workload for leaders, who currently have a 4,500+ word assessment response. However, the loss of a focused in-school project may well be felt keenly by headteachers who often benefit from talented leaders undertaking innovative and well-structured, impactful projects as part of their qualification that contribute hugely to school improvement agendas.
As an experienced deliverer of leadership development, we will be partnering with new lead providers for the whole range of qualifications to ensure that staff across the West Midlands can have a range of opportunities to attend these programmes.
We will continue to support leaders in completing their current qualifications while preparing for the new opportunities. Phased implementation of the new qualifications will allow us to support multiple cohorts.
WAT is planning to deliver NPQs in the following phases offering a range of start times for schools.
Find out more about these programmes here.