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Developing outstanding leadership through partnership

Best Practice Network's Yvonne Gandy on the Outstanding Leaders Partnership, a network of schools delivering leadership development qualifications

Posted by Julian Owen | March 20, 2019 | Teaching

What is Outstanding Leaders Partnership (OLP)?

OLP is a national collaborative of schools, teaching school alliances and multi-academy trusts, created in 2012 to deliver the four National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) for school leaders. OLP now consists of more than 70 partners across England, with over 40 coaches, 50 online tutors and 200+ face-to-face facilitators. To date, OLP has trained more than 5,000 school leaders. 

What’s your approach?        

For NPQs to be accessible and relevant to schools around the country, school leaders and staff had to be involved in the programmes’ design and the delivery. It’s important that the NPQs comply with national standards – they’re accredited by the Department for Education - but they need to be tailored to local needs to be truly effective. 

Professional learning gives leaders time to reflect on how and why they lead

Our delivery partners identify staff to be tutors, facilitators and coaches, and they are trained in these roles by Best Practice Network (BPN), one of the UK’s largest providers of professional development and support for education professionals; this relationship is crucial to OLP’s success. BPN has worked with OLP on the design and development of the NPQs. They also manage the training events, quality assure, support candidates from application through to completion, and provide the online learning platform used by NPQ participants. OLP couldn’t deliver these programmes at such quality and scale without this partnership. 

OLP’s approach has many benefits: schools take control of improvement on a local level, through the creation and delivery of professional development attuned to local needs, while leaders delivering the training get valuable confidence-building professional development that helps them create opportunities for children and young people in their schools. Schools also receive income for delivering the training.

How does professional learning help leaders in the current climate?

There will always be shifting government priorities, budget pressures and worries about wellbeing, retention and recruitment. Professional learning gives leaders time to reflect on how and why they lead, so they can better address these challenges and ask themselves if they are fulfilling their ambitions for children and young people. 

For NPQs to be accessible and relevant to schools around the country, school leaders and staff had to be involved in the programmes’ design and the delivery

How can schools get involved?

We welcome approaches from good or outstanding schools interested in becoming NPQ delivery partners, and from individual school leaders looking to work with us as facilitators, online tutors, coaches or assessors (interested parties should contact Chris Ludlow at BPN).

What should school leaders look for when they’re searching for professional development?

Ask why you want professional development and what difference you want it to make to your leadership practice and leadership behaviours; both are crucial to school improvement. Work out your development needs with a diagnostic tool, such as BPN’s 360 degree diagnostic, and then look critically at training providers. Are they nationally accredited? Do they have the right ethos? OLP wants to help people become better leaders so they can drive school improvement, rather than simply getting them to pass a qualification. Will the training help you improve your practice within your school’s context, and will you have time to do it? Finally, does the programme count towards further study, such as a Master’s?

Yvonne Gandy is programme director of National Professional Qualifications at Best Practice Networka BESA member  

 

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