March 2021 edition: An Overview of Current Reforms - and the Case for Unprecedented Collaboration and New Forms of Leadership

An Overview of Current Reforms - and the Case for Unprecedented Collaboration and New Forms of Leadership

This is a significant moment in the history of education in England. The policy reforms that are about to be implemented will shift the strategic picture. The old strategic picture is dissolving and a new one is forming. I know there are a wide range of opinions on the specifics of policy reforms. In this piece, I am proposing simply to make sense of those reforms and set out how Trusts may wish to take a longer term orientation and enact different forms of leadership.

The Early Career Framework – building teacher expertise

The Early Career Framework is the evidence base which underpins this new entitlement for early career teachers’ professional development. Subject to parliamentary approval, from September 2021 there will be changes to the statutory induction arrangements. This will ensure that all early career teachers undergoing induction are entitled to a 2-year training and support programme based on the Early Career Framework. Key changes will include:

  • The extension of the induction period to 2 school years

  • Early career teachers will be entitled to a programme of training based on the Early Career Framework, as well as the support of a dedicated mentor

  • Additional funding for 5% time away from the classroom for teachers in their second year. Funding will also be provided to cover mentors’ time with the mentee in the second year of teaching

In terms of your strategic decision-making, you will already be familiarising yourself with the Early Career Framework and its underpinning evidence. Consider reviewing your Trust’s policy framework (for example, your behaviour policy, curriculum policy, marking and assessment policy, SEN and differentiation policy – are these aligned with the best evidence?)

Consider how you will meet the new statutory duty in relation to the 2-year statutory induction. Will you develop your own curriculum, base a curriculum on the published core induction materials or consider selecting one of the lead providers?

Finally, consider your choice of Appropriate Body – is it fit for purpose? You may wish to consider whether you use a single Appropriate Body for all the schools in your Trust. If so, National Teacher Accreditation, a subsidiary of CST, provides such a service.

National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) – building leader expertise

From September 2021, a reformed suite of NPQs will be available for teachers and leaders who want to develop their knowledge and skills in school leadership and specialist areas of teaching practice. This includes:

  • Reforming the 3 existing NPQs in senior leadership, headship and executive leadership

  • Replacing the current NPQ in middle leadership with 3 new specialist NPQs for teachers and leaders who want to develop their expertise in specialist areas of teaching practice (leading teaching, leading behaviour and leading teacher development)

In terms of your strategic approach, are you a delivery partner for the new NPQs? If not, are you building a relationship with potential delivery partners in your area so that you can access the NPQs and additional support offer for new head teachers?

Perhaps more importantly, how can you align the professional development programme(s) in your Trust with the evidence and research underpinning the new NPQ frameworks?

Teaching School Hubs – build evidence-informed professional development

The Teaching School Hub programme will create a national network of 87 centres for teacher training and development, replacing the previous network of around 750 teaching schools. They will be expected to play a significant role in delivering:

  • School-based initial teacher training (ITT)

  • The Early Career Framework when it is available nationally from September 2021

  • The new national professional qualifications (NPQ)

  • Appropriate Body services for early career teachers

The teaching school hubs, alongside research schools, curriculum and behaviour hubs are an important system resource.

Do you have a teaching school hub, research school and/or curriculum hub within your Trust? If so, how will you use this strategically to build capacity and enable evidence-informed professional development both within and beyond your Trust?

If you do not have a teaching school hub, research school and/or curriculum hub within your Trust, then who are the partners in your region you want to work with to build capacity and enable evidence-informed professional development both within and beyond your Trust? How will you build these networks and relationships?

Reforms of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) – building teacher expertise

So we come full circle – back to building teacher expertise, this time on entry to the profession. We already have the ITT core content framework.

The Department for Education is committed to procuring a new Institute of Teaching, which is proposed to become England’s flagship teacher training and development provider, showcasing exemplary delivery of the Government’s reforms through the new ITT Core Content Framework and Early Career Framework, and changes to National Professional Qualifications.

It will continue to build evidence around the most effective approaches to training and developing teachers and will use this to support other teacher development organisations, including new teaching school hubs, to understand and implement best practice. It is proposed to launch in September 2022, with training being delivered through at least four regional campuses.

These reforms are far-reaching, but I think as leaders, we need to go further. We need to think about enacting new forms of leadership. The leadership of our own organisation (Trust leadership) is necessary but not sufficient. As we proposed in our System of Meaning Paper, we also need to enact civic leadership and system leadership.

Leaders must become system builders – builders of local and regional systems such that every school is part of a strong and sustainable Trust.

Leora Cruddas

What does this mean for Trust leadership?

Whether or not you have a teaching school or curriculum hub in your Trust, you can consider building the principles of and evidence behind these reforms into your strategic plan, in other words to mobilise the best research and evidence to continue to build the quality of education in your Trust.

As we set out in Knowledge-Building – School Improvement at Scale:

  • The goal is for every teacher in every classroom to be as good as they can be in what they teach (curriculum) and how they teach it (pedagogy).

  • For this to happen, we need to mobilise for every teacher the best evidence from research.

  • There is no improvement for pupils without improvement in teaching, and no improvement in teaching without the best professional development for teachers.

You will need to build the professional networks and relationships to make this happen by taking a long-term orientation.

What does this mean for Civic Leadership?

These reforms are happening in the context of a global pandemic – and we will be living with the negative legacy of COVID-19 and its impact on children and families for many years to come. Our collective goal is for the education, safety and welfare of every child in every locality to be protected.

For this to happen, Trust leaders need to work with other civic leaders in the locality. Leaders must be prepared to play a significant role in the locality by working with others to make a strategic contribution to the greater social good for children and families. So, you will also need to build the professional networks and relationships to make this happen, again by taking a long-term orientation.

What does this mean for System Leadership?

Our core charitable object is to advance education for public good – not just for the good of those pupils educated in schools in our own group. Our collective goal must surely be for all schools in a local or regional system to offer consistently good quality of education.

For this to happen, leaders need to consciously see the system. Leaders need to be prepared to act on (not just in) the system. Leaders must become system builders – builders of local and regional systems such that every school is part of a strong and sustainable Trust.

As Peter Senge points out, the deep changes necessary to accelerate progress require leaders who catalyse collective leadership.

We can and should catalyse leadership within our own organisations – our Trusts.

But, there are a host of systemic challenges beyond the reach of existing institutions and their hierarchical leadership structures or plans for growth.

We require unprecedented collaboration among Trusts and Trust leaders to foster collective leadership to build local systems, focusing on the value of the child and the quality of education.