NPQH Diary

Why am i writing this?!? Firstly, to help myself when I’m trying to reference what I have learnt in my project write ups. Perhaps also it may help someone thinking of doing NPQH or an equivalent level of CPD.

I am currently embarking upon NPQH! To be honest, my journey simply to get to this point has been rather a long one. I was unable to access the course at a previous school because of budget restraints so I was fortunate to be able to move to a new school who were fully supportive of my CPD… and able to finance it. The removal of bursaries from the National College seems short sighted and perhaps the first nail in NPQH’s coffin. In reality schools are now paying around £3000 to support the CPD of an individual who will, very soon, be flying the nest.

First step: Complete the application. Easier said than done. It is a long and testing process- as it should be I suppose. The 6 sections test your suitability for headship by asking you to assess your skills and experience against a set of key competencies. These competencies will come to pay a key part of our learning later in the process. Your evidence will need to be further supported by your sponsor. A tip- Give your sponsor a good amount of time to complete their sections. I sat with my sponsor for a morning to allow him the time to read through my sections and write annotated notes before he added ‘flesh to the bones’ himself.

Once you have submitted the application form there are some other minimal, and rather repetitive, questions to fill in online and then you await to hear your fate. There are 3 options: Declined, accepted or accepted on condition of a further interview. I was lucky enough to be accepted. So far… So good.

I was expecting torrents of paperwork to arrive over the summer but, with the exception of a couple of administrative emails, very little materialised. However, once September arrived the course started with gusto. A webinar led by the course administrator was very helpful and took you through the process step by step. This also provided an opportunity to ensure everybody understood the preparatory learning and tasks that had to take place before ‘Residential 1’.

Residential 1 ran from 9.00 Friday morning to 4.00 Saturday afternoon. I arrived on the Thursday evening just outside and to the left of the middle of nowhere. Suit packed, folder organised and laptop charged. Friday began with the beginning- makes sense I think. We went back to why we became teachers. Why we became leaders and why we want to lead a school. We discovered what kind of leader we would be and how this had to be driven by our own personal values. You can be influenced by others of course but fundamentally, if you are not being yourself then you will fail. This enabled us to form our own mission statement and then plan how this would permeate through and drive all aspects of school improvement.

Of course, all this rather nice fantasizing about our wonderful future schools was balanced out with a lecture on the ‘5 things you can get the sack for’. It turned out to be 7 by the way…

Friday night entailed much networking at the bar. Note to self, go to bed an hour earlier. The next morning started at 8.30. Ouch. Seriously, the evening is a great opportunity to make friends- don’t waste it. I met some great people who continue to help me in the course now.

The following day is no let up. You begin to iron out what you will do in your 2 projects: One at your own school and the other a placement. We examined models of change such as Koppler to help ensure these projects are effective. The final part of the weekend is a ‘real life’ task which is something reminiscent of The Apprentice. I won’t go into detail as it would be unfair for future cohorts but it is the hardest (and best) piece of CPD I have done!

4.00 Saturday- Drive home, greet wife, hug children, sleep.

I am now in the midst of delivering my first project and reading the online materials that support the delivery of this. I will need to reference my reading in the write ups of my 2 projects. Quite what this will look like I’m still a little unsure- some examples would have been helpful. The lack of a proper tutor makes asking for guidance a challenge so I’ve started a topic board blog within the facilitator’s website to see if we can help each other.

I’ll post again when I’m a little further into my project…