Apprenticeships: Develop Your Senior School Leadership Team

It is a common thought that promoting apprenticeships in school is all about inspiring students about the wide range of opportunities that apprenticeships can offer, however, there is a growing body of schools across England who are accessing apprenticeship funding to boost their training and development budgets and unlock an exciting range of programmes for both their teaching and support staff.

Schools may sometimes feel like there is not enough time to look at anything outside of the daily priorities, especially with the challenges that the Covid pandemic has brought. However, there remains huge, untapped opportunity for schools and Multi-Academy Trusts to utilise apprenticeship funding to boost the motivation, retention and overall skills of their workforce, leading to improved learning outcomes for students.

School-based Apprenticeships

School- based apprenticeships, designed for middle and senior school leaders can build and strengthen both individual and team capacity, helping to ensure that every member of a senior leadership team in a school or an academy has the knowledge and skills to work alongside and challenge head teachers.

Chris McGeehan, from City Skills, explains how apprenticeships and the Apprenticeship Levy can be used to develop teachers into senior leaders.

“To really lead the way schools need to be at the forefront of what’s going on. They need to innovate; collaborate both among staff and with other schools, they need to understand the landscape; what’s ahead and what the latest research is telling us, Apprenticeships give people the time and space to do that.

“It’s a bit of a misconception to think that once you’re trained to be a teacher, regardless of how good you are, or how long you have been doing it that you are ready to be a school leader and understand the implicit responsibilities to keep innovating, keep developing yourself and others within the team.

Great teachers are promoted into leadership positions, whether that’s a head of year, a head of key stage, head of subject, head of sixth form and quite often they are unprepared to lead a team, oversee a budget and everything else that comes with a leadership position. They are great at teaching and learning, they work well with students, but they’re not necessarily equipped to lead a department or to run a year group or work with others that way.

Better to identify your talent pipeline early, know who is going to be an amazing head of science in three years’ time for example and prepare them for the step up.

Using an apprenticeship certainly supports this model. It doesn’t just teach the knowledge and skills that are important for the role, but the behaviours that go along with it. They are absolutely ingrained in the apprenticeship standard from the beginning.

Transformational Leadership in Schools

What does it mean to lead a team? We can ensure that everyone knows their responsibilities and tick off duties or talk about problems as they come up and that’s fine, but to lead schools we need people who are able to really think about what’s important; what needs prioritising, what skills need developing in order to make the best possible impact for colleagues and students alike.

Good leadership isn’t just transactional, it’s transformational. Effective leadership transforms the team, it transforms people, it grows them and the best thing is that we can also apply this to a classroom and how students study almost any subject. We can study World War 2 in a superficial way; introduce the key dates, the key events and ask students to learn them. But if we if we’re going to grow the next generation of historians, rather than people who passed history exams we need students to really start to think about the subject, start to imagine what it was like, understand the motives of the key people and then  encourage them by facilitating a conversation and a discussion. There’s a huge difference.

Coaching Skills for Senior School leaders

The purpose of coaching in education settings- and not just for staff but as a teaching method -gets right to the core ethos of pedagogy; what does outstanding practice or outstanding teaching and learning look like? We want to create independent learners, and coaching is brilliant for that.

Coaching skills are absolutely fundamental when working with others. They can make the interactions with TAs, parents, stakeholders, carers, governors and even Ofsted inspectors far more effective. Coaching skills help people listen far more effectively, they can direct a conversation; asking the pertinent questions, which in turn enables someone else to think much more strategically and effectively.

Think, if someone was really listening to teachers to learn about what kind of teacher, or what kind of leader they wanted to be and was facilitating their career growth with that in mind, how impactful that would be?

If people working in schools are allowed to stagnate, they fall behind and can quickly contribute to a failing organisation. So, if we’re going to ensure that students get the best quality education experience possible, we need to keep investing in the people that work there.

Apprenticeships offer great leadership development outcomes

Right now, teachers are under a massive amount of stress, from entry level to senior leadership, teachers are leaving the profession and it’s even becoming an unpopular to have a leadership position in schools. To halt this worrying trend, we need to keep developing good people so they can be effective in their leadership roles. It may seem illogical to put a massive focus on CPD, but if we are looking longer term, rather than just focusing on the next six months, think how effective we are going to be?

Of course, CPD isn’t the only thing that grows people and schools, but it’s such a fundamental thing. The apprenticeships themselves, they bring a gravitas, importance, people take them very seriously. It’s something that goes on the CV. Why not use the money from the apprenticeship levy that can only be invested in apprenticeships, otherwise it is lost to the LA or the school.”

City Skills works in partnership with Olevi, who have been creating CPD and training courses for senior educational leaders for more than 20 years and understand what makes an effective school leadership team.

“Using an apprenticeship the new knowledge, behaviour and skills learned become ingrained, they become things that we and trial and embed through practice. Overtime, especially if we’ve got other colleagues with us, the culture of departments- the culture of a school- starts to change in a much more meaningful way and sustainable way”, says Chris.

Who should take part?

These apprenticeships have been designed in collaboration with Olevi, for secondary school and academy senior leadership teams. Primary and special schools are encouraged to contact us to discuss whether this programme is suitable for your senior leaders.

If you are part of a MAT or local authority and feel this programme is right for a group of your schools, get in touch