Building capacity for leadership at all levels of the system

White Horse Federation

1. Overview

This project sought to combine three things from three different sectors to bring about a synergy and leadership opportunity not seen before. It sought to combine the following to create a unique offer, which saw every member of a school’s staff or indeed a MAT as a leader in their own right.

- Nationally recognised and respected leadership programmes from the NCTL

- Leading edge leadership development materials produced by a number of FTSE 100 companies and other significant commercial organisations.

- The educational, academic and evidential research based materials developed by the MARJON University.

The project aimed to develop the leadership potential of many staff groups in school, from an NQT who should be a leader in their own classroom, to an RQT who might start to have a level of responsibility across a year group, to a middle leader leading a department or faculty.

Alongside quality professional development and coaching there was emphasis on participants accessing a platform to host a range of quality leadership resources, and becoming part of an active professional learning community. The school-based projects, which were the focus for each participant, was centred on key areas of underperformance, with the overall objective being improved attainment, attendance for all pupils, and a reduction in the gap between the attainment and attendance of the most disadvantaged pupils.


2. Good practice to share with others interested in running school improvement projects to ensure projects deliver the intended outcome.

The project lead makes the following recommendations based on elements of successful practice that featured in this project:

  1. In all projects of this scale building in flexibility, while observing / achieving agreed outcomes is essential.
  2. Utilising the EEF Guidance on the implementation of evidence -informed CPD is a recommended approach, identifying where evidence of need linked to evidence of impact, in the planning stage of the programme.
  3. Evidence of what works in school improvement (Greatbatch and Tate, 2019 DfE) cite the importance of collaboration, and the development of trust in professional relationships. However, this report also cites the challenge of identifying causal links between this and measurable outcomes in pupil performance. Therefore, having realistic project goals and outcomes is recommended.

3. Lessons learned - What the project may do differently in the future

If designing a project again, the project lead would make the following adaptations:

  1. We had a challenge in engaging local businesses and, as is often the case, developing personal professional relationships with individuals helped. Being very clear about potential benefits for businesses is important in the planning phase, but this needs to respond to partner needs, not assumptions.

4. Sustainability measures taken by the project to ensure improvement are sustained beyond the funding period

The project has put in place a range of sustainability measures, some systemic and others more specific.

  1. This SSIF project has had sustainable impact at a number of different levels. On an individual level a significant number of the 38 participants have expressed an increase in perceived efficacy as a leader with 43% reporting career progression in leadership roles or leading on whole-school programmes as a result of the training and support.
  2. There was a clear shift in perspective of participants from a focus on themselves as leaders towards awareness of the impact of their leadership. The coaching element is cited as having the greatest impact here. Therefore, there is legacy and sustainability due to the long-term impact of the training. This is supported in nearly all of the schools that were inspected during the programme (7 of 8) receiving explicit reference to the quality of leadership in Oftsed inspection reports, and these schools maintaining Good or improving Ofsted judgements.
  3. Several (47%) participants now coach colleagues in leadership roles, plus the coaches themselves have been recruited to support leadership training this year across Swindon.
  4. The online materials remain accessible to all current NPQ participants, and key elements of learning from the SSIF has informed new leadership training currently in development ('Thinking Leaders') that will be offered to the sub-region.
  5. Significantly, the Swindon and Wiltshire region will engage with an Oracy programme led by Swindon Teaching School in collaboration with the LAs, Voice 21. Within this, there is a requirement for leaders to assist in the QA and delivery. We anticipate the recruitment of school leaders that have benefited from this training, negating the need for further leadership training (as would be the norm).
  6. A professional relationship has evolved with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) through this programme, with REME and Babcock International contributing to the Leadership Conference, and further school visits, and professional exchanges taking place in one Swindon secondary.
  7. The Nordic Schools also contributed to the leadership conference and from this an Erasmus bid is in place to take school leaders to Denmark in the autumn 2019.

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