Amanda Lee

Assistant Headteacher at Caldew Lea Primary School

Leadership Course Completed through CET

  • NPQML – 2020

CET Leadership Course Testimony

As one of the first members of CET staff to undertake the NPQML course, it was a new and interesting experience for all involved.  I enjoyed meeting a range of colleagues from across the trust and we had the opportunity to buddy up and liaise with others completing a similar project.  I was apprehensive about completing the programme as I didn’t know if I could fit something extra in alongside everything there is to do already.  It does take commitment and it will require you organising your time in order to meet deadlines and time constraints, however I learned and gained immensely from the different modules and sessions and I felt fully supported throughout the course.

If I would give any advice it would be to focus on something that will benefit and help you in your day to day role, so for example as Head of Year, most of my time was spent with a group of high ability, disengaged boys in Y9, I chose to focus on raising their aspirations and achievements across the curriculum, ultimately leading to raising whole school standards.

The NPQML has helped me to progress into the role of Assistant Headteacher.

Allison Murphy

Curriculum Leader – Expressive Arts at Workington Academy

Leadership Course Completed through CET

  • NPQSL – 2020 

CET Leadership Course Testimony

The NPQSL course gave me an insight into the workings of senior leadership and the confidence to take lead on a trust wide project to boost student engagement and their understanding of art outside the classroom. I have always enjoyed leading large-scale art projects as well as regular workshops for our feeder schools, but this course gave me the skills to fully evaluate my own role and responsibilities along the way and measure the larger impact the project could have.

I enjoyed the on-the-job training the course provided, it had a direct link to my students and everyday practice. We often met as a ‘class’ after school at one of the trusts schools which offered the valuable experience of sharing ideas with my peers. I was also able to select my own in school mentor to support my research. The classes covered seven leadership behaviours (commitment, collaboration, personal drive, resilience, awareness, integrity and respect) through six content areas (strategy and improvement, teaching and curriculum excellence, leading with impact, working in partnership, managing resources and risks and increasing capability). To demonstrate an understanding of these areas we were asked to submit a range of  evidence to go alongside our project. These included health and safety risk assessments, a business case, evidence of using pupil performance data and other raw data, a project plan and a communication plan. I was given support and templates to help write these elements. I found the communication plan most useful as it listed all the stakeholders and at what stage they were needed and for what reason, as well as setting timely deadlines for me to follow to keep the project moving and the content relevant.

If I could give advice to future NPQSL cohorts it would be the following. Keep the project simple with measurable progress. Choose a topic that can impact a full year group in some way.  Work outside your normal role and link it to a whole school priority.  Choose an area that can link to raw data and can produce data for comparison.  Write the report as you go.

Dan Smith

Assistant Headteacher – Teaching and Learning  at The Whitehaven Academy

Leadership Course Completed through CET

  • NPQSL – 2020 

CET Leadership Course Testimony

In completing the NPQSL qualification in May 2020, it has provided me with the opportunity to develop my leadership skills and qualities. The course is evidence based and includes many opportunities for reflection which has enabled me to understand what effective leadership means to me and why it is so important in our schools.

I really enjoyed working with colleagues in other trust schools and having the opportunity to share experiences and best practice with others. The sessions were very well planned and delivered in a way which was supportive with lots of real-life examples. I looked forward to every session we had and the different aspects of leadership we would focus on.

The sessions allowed me to review my own leadership traits and look at ways in which I handle different situations. It made me appreciate that there are many different ways in which effective leadership can be demonstrated and how leading by example is so important. I also enjoyed investigating areas for development and how I can continue to improve in my own leadership journey. The opportunities for reflection were very powerful and is something that can often be overlooked in the hustle and bustle of a busy school day. I now do this process of self-reflection regularly as it enables me to review my decisions and whether or not I would do things differently if faced with similar issues in the future.

The 360-degree review of my own leadership was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the course. In asking colleagues what they thought of my leadership style gave me a great insight into the way in which I am perceived as a leader. All of the sessions were completely open and honest and you had the opportunity to share your thoughts and concerns. The sessions are non-judgemental which enabled discussions to be honest and valuable. The facilitators of the course were very experienced leaders who were inspiring and supportive and provided lots of real-life examples.

The course itself has really helped in my job role. It has allowed me to focus on the rationale behind whole school projects and what training and support is often needed. It has also allowed me to reflect on the strengths of others and that it’s ok to ask for support and advice. I also understand the importance of decisions not being made in isolation and how the clarity of message is crucial. I feel I am much more rounded as a leader and look at things in a different way. I have a better understanding of how to be flexible in my leadership and how to adapt to changing circumstances.

I think the course has enabled me to develop the skills qualities and characteristics required for future leadership opportunities. I feel my confidence has improved immensely since taking part in the programme and I have a good understanding of evidenced based teaching and learning practices.

I would highly recommend the course to anyone interesting in developing their leadership knowledge or looking at senior leadership opportunities. The expectations of you as a developing leader are high and the course does need planned into your busy schedules so you get the full benefits of the programme. I ensured I put time aside each week to focus on the qualification which enabled me to get the most from it. I enjoyed every moment of the course and the level of support and collaboration you get from it.

Mal Holliday

Curriculum Leader – PE at Workington Academy

Leadership Course Completed through CET

  • NPQSL – 2020 

CET Leadership Course Testimony

The NPQSL gave me a great insight into what is required to be a successful senior leader. The supportive and challenging approach to delivery ensured each session was informative and thought provoking. Networking was a hugely beneficial element of the course as it gave an opportunity to share experiences with other leaders from across CET from both the primary and secondary sectors. Sharing these experiences via open discussion activities created a supportive environment within the cohort and allowed for continued reflection upon my own personal journey throughout the course. Completing the course and running my impact project has helped me to look at things only from a whole school perspective and not just within my own department.

I really enjoyed and relished the opportunity to work alongside and lead colleagues from other departments in achieving a shared goal. I would recommend completing this leadership course to other CET staff as from a personal point of view I am confident that the manner in which the NPQSL course was delivered and the experiences I gained during my project, will both enable me to take the next steps in my career, when I feel it is the right time.

John Savage

Curriculum Leader – Science at Workington Academy

Leadership Course Completed through CET

  • NPQSL – 2020 

CET Leadership Course Testimony

I started the NPQSL course in September 2018 and studied content modules throughout that academic year. For my project, I decided to look at how online platforms could impact the performance of students at GCSE and this was submitted in April 2020. I found out that I had been successful in passing the course the following August. I have been Curriculum lead for Science since 2007 and as an experienced middle leader the parts of the course that I found to be most beneficial were those that focussed on the different skills required in Senior Leadership roles compared to those of Middle Leaders. Senior Leadership roles are more often outward facing and as such you may often be required to communicate with stakeholders outside of your organisation. It was, I believe, these skills that I needed to focus on that would allow me to progress successfully to a more senior role within a school. The course forced me to evaluate my own style of leadership, looking at the strengths and weaknesses of my current practise. Throughout my time in role, I was someone who has struggled to delegate effectively often believing the old adage that “If I do it myself at least I know it’ll be done correctly”. I now understand that in doing this may inhibit my colleagues’ growth as professionals and as a result have attempted to change my practise. Studying for my NPQSL has forced me think beyond my department and challenged me to look at situations from a whole school perspective. I now understand that the solutions that may work within my subject area may not be applicable throughout the whole school or in other, similar, institutions. 

The course has also given me the confidence to see that I have the abilities and skillsets that ae required in senior leadership. I have also realised that I am someone who can think strategically rather than simply fulfilling operational requirements, and that at some point in the future I may wish to employ my skills to an appropriate role within senior leadership. Whether or not you aspire to a senior leadership position, completing an NPQSL will at least allow you to understand how and why decisions are made at that level and will give you a holistic view of the wider picture of management within an education setting. Make sure that your project is something that will directly help you in your current role and try to ensure that impact is quantifiable as this will make analysing the change much easier. I fully admit to being a “reluctant recruit” to the program, but I enjoyed the both the course and completing my project. I also believe that some of the insight I have gained will be invaluable in my future career.

Edwina Headley

Curriculum Leader – English at Workington Academy

Leadership Course Completed through CET

  • NPQSL – 2020 

I was invited to complete the NPQSL course as part of my professional CPD in 2018. Having read through the course requirements, I felt this would not only be a useful qualification but also an interesting process; the plan allowed for plenty of flexibility and for candidates to complete a project that was more personal to their interests in education. 

The in-school delivery was a combination of twilight sessions and full days off timetable. All those involved from the Trust would meet together, allowing us to share practices from across the various departments and schools. Being able to discuss ideas with people from outside of your own school really opened up new ideas to consider that wouldn’t necessarily have been identified by closer colleagues. 

The flexibility of deadlines for submission was also valuable; as they say,’ the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’, so knowing that there was the opportunity to submit work at a later date meant you didn’t feel as much pressure if there were unforeseen issues. 

The course also helped me to gain a better understanding of some of the wider issues that SLT have to negotiate and deal with that impact at whole school levels far more than at a departmental level. It was particularly interesting to look at the level of pre-planning that needs to go into a project and bidding for potential funding. The course also allowed me to reflect on my own managerial style and what I could potentially do to communicate better with others outside of my own working network. 

My advice for anyone considering the course would be to think carefully about what you hope to achieve by the end of the process and who you would appreciate mentoring you, as this will be a close working relationship that you will rely on for the duration of the course.

Hannah Calvert

Key Stage 3 Coordinator – English at Workington Academy

Leadership Course Completed through CET

  • NPQML – 2020 

I completed the NPQML qualification during the academic year 2018-19, submitting my final assignment in October 2019. I found the course to be a really valuable experience, giving me the time and opportunity to draw on a wealth of experience from other middle leaders and aspiring middle leaders working in both the primary and secondary sectors across the trust.  

I particularly enjoyed the sessions on making use of different leadership styles and looking at aspects of project management, such as risk planning. I found these helpful when completing my project, but still make use of the skills that I practised in my day-to-day role, too.

I think that completing the NPQML will open doors for me in my future career. However, more importantly, it has given me the tools I need to talk with confidence about my own leadership ability, and the knowledge to adapt my style to meet the demands of different tasks.  

My advice for anyone completing the NPQML would be: reach out to others. You will be working with a diverse group of people from a range of settings across the trust during the contact hours and it’s a fantastic chance to network, share ideas and ask advice from colleagues you wouldn’t ordinarily get the chance to see regularly. I’d also advise considering your current role and setting when deciding on your project focus – you’re much better off choosing a project that falls under your current remit and addresses the priorities of your setting so that you are able to dedicate the necessary time to your project and see real results from the work you’re putting in.

Allison Kenyon

Year 4 Teacher, NQT Mentor and Science and MFL lead at Longtown Primary School

Leadership Course Completed through CET

  • NPQML – 2020 

The NPQML course was offered to me as an experienced middle leader in a primary school. Prior to joining Cumbria Education Trust, I had led SEND in a Lancashire Primary School alongside a range of foundation subjects, however I had not undertaken a programme of CPD to support this role. Joining the NPQML course was an excellent opportunity to be able to reflect on my prior experience objectively and consider the role of a middle leader in more detail. In particular I have learned how to work more strategically within a middle leadership role and I am also much clearer about how my role supports the work of the senior leadership team.

In terms of my own career development pathway, the course was ideal for my continuing professional development and, two years post qualification, I continue to refer back to my learning on the course in my current role as Science School Improvement Team Lead for Cumbria Education Trust.

The course offers a range of different methods of delivery which prepares a potential middle leader for their role. One of the most beneficial aspects of the course delivery was working alongside secondary colleagues within the trust.

The diversity of participants challenged my thinking and added depth and breadth to discussion. In particular, I found reflecting on leadership styles at the beginning of the course helped me to define what I wanted to stand for as a leader. This then clarified my intentions for my subject in school and how I then disseminated this to colleagues. The support given by course leaders when developing my project objective was useful and had a direct impact on my preparation as a subject leader for our upcoming Ofsted visit. It clarified my subject intent and gave me confidence in portraying this within the Ofsted inspection. Since completing my NPQML, I have continued to grow and develop as a middle leader. In October 2020, I was appointed School Improvement Lead for Science across the trust. The experience I gained on the NPQML course undoubtedly supported me as I progressed into this role. For anyone wishing to build a solid understanding of the role of a middle leader, completing the NPQML course is an excellent way to take the next step in your career. The course offers a clear and comprehensive learning experience which positively impacts on career development within Cumbria Education Trust.