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The National College for School Leadership (NCSL) is piloting a new ...
The National College for School Leadership (NCSL) is piloting a new

programme aimed at offering newly appointed headteachers the most

powerful experiences for leadership learning that can be designed.

Nearly 130 new heads from across England are taking part in the New

Visions Induction to Headship Programme. If successful, this could

become a national training programme in the future.

The year-long pilot involves the new heads participating in regional

networks that combine study, problem-solving and peer support. The

focus is on addressing real issues which participants are facing in

their schools. Together the new heads analyse and debate leadership

styles and approaches, support each other in implementing them and

jointly evaluate the outcomes.

'Early headship can be an incredibly daunting and isolating

experience and it is therefore vital we create the strongest possible

learning and support framework for headteachers who are new into

post,' said David Jackson, director of research and school

improvement at NCSL.

'This programme is breaking away from more traditional didactic

methods of training. Instead, it is built around the lived experience

of early headship. We are creating learning communities, linking up

school leaders and providing them with learning experiences which are

targeted at the particular challenges they face.'

A total of 11 groups have been established spreading from Kent

and Bristol in the South to York in the North. Each group has between

eight and 15 members and is led by an experienced facilitator

and two consultant headteachers. The groups will attend 12 workshops

over a year. Participants will also be able to debate issues and

support each other via a New Visions online community.

Jackson added 'Our aim is to encourage collaborative learning habits

which participants will continue to use throughout their career. We

want to create a culture whereby heads can in turn support and

sustain those in their schools who will be the leaders of the


Participants have responded overwhelmingly to the first set of

workshops in March.

Patrick Marshall, headteacher of Marriotts School, Stevenage, said:

'It's been inspirational, profoundly appropriate for the stage of

headship I find myself in. The programme forces you to look at the

role of the headteacher. It's about making those skills real with

other practitioners.'

Another participant said: 'To know this kind of expertise and support

is there is great. It'll probably encourage more people to be heads.'


The New Visions Induction to Headship pilot programme forms a key

part of the College's work to create a coherent leadership

development framework for schools.

The pilot has been designed by leading education professionals

including Professor John West-Burnham from the International

Leadership Centre at the University of Hull, Howard Kennedy, Managing

Director of the London Leadership Centre, Chris Cotton, Leadership

Consultant at NCSL and Jane Creasy, Project Leader for the New

Visions pilot.

An independent evaluation of the pilot to examine its impact, quality

and relevance is being carried out by Professor Tony Bush of Reading

University. NCSL is also conducting its own evaluation of

participants' experience of the programme.

The pilot is one part of NCSL's 'New Visions for Early Headship'

research and development programme. This also incorporates:

- A desk study to review best practice and research nationally and

internationally within the early headship field.

- A development programme for heads and teams linked to NCSL's

'Building Capacity for School Development' programme.

- A study of best practice internationally in the support of new

headteachers, including study groups, internships, coaching and

support for teams.

- A themed programme of research into early headship by three

headteachers, currently NCSL Research Associates.

- A large scale national survey of the needs of new headteachers.

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