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Is NPQH fit for purpose?

Discussion in 'Senior Leadership Team' started by brazenhussy, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. I found it quite off-putting to read the thread saying how awful people's experience was of NPQH. I would like to learn more.
    Is NPQH fit for purpose? Does it prepare senior leaders with strategies to deal with the challenges that will face them in post.
    If not, then what is it missing? What needs to be dropped?
     
  2. I found it quite off-putting to read the thread saying how awful people's experience was of NPQH. I would like to learn more.
    Is NPQH fit for purpose? Does it prepare senior leaders with strategies to deal with the challenges that will face them in post.
    If not, then what is it missing? What needs to be dropped?
     
  3. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    1. No.
    2. Definitely not.
    3. Experience is what prepares senior leaders with strategies to deal with the challenges that will face them in post.
    4. The whole thing is pointless and needs to be dropped. It's spent massive amounts of taxpayers' money 'training' a lot of people who are nver going to be heads in a thousand years and wasting the time of those who are.
     
  4. The comments were spot on. It is an intimidating experience run by academics and based on questionable theories and principles. The people who run the course act as gatekeepers. If you don't go along with it and learn to speak and think like them then you wont get your NPQH.
    It has little of real practical value except those things that lets you see into other schools and talk with fellow professionals. It puts too little emphasis on school evaluation and practical strategies for dealing with important issues like inspection and capability issues.
    I would hate to lose something as important as a leadership college for education but this one is populated by the wrong people. The programmes should be designed by people with recent leadership experience and have sessions focussed around key individuals who have done exceptional things in their own schools. We need to send the academics back to their ivory towers along with their silly theories.
     
  5. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Too right! I've known several people personally who got jobs with the college - none had successful leadership experience (three had distinctly unsuccessful experience) and a couple had been teaching less than five years, with no leadership experience. Absolutely ludicrous!
     
  6. I hope my comments have not put anyone off- but lets not pretend there is anything rewarding about the NPQH process. I just wanted people to know what to expect.
    In all honesty if I wanted further academic challenge I would do a Masters or similar in an area of professional interest to me. My one and only motivation in doing NPQH was to be able to apply for headship. I <u>needed</u> to do NPQH but I was realistic about what I hoped to achieve. I agree with the comments on here- in a time of HT shortages the whole approach needs to change.
     
  7. As so often I completely agree with middlemarch's comments. My experience while my deputy was going through this awful experience was that NPQH is "managed" by people who couldn't run a booze up in a brewery. They are blinkered by silly processes and, worse still, are often either incompetent or downright rude. There really is no substitute for experience. The emphasis throughout the NPQH "journey" seemed to be based on the theory that most teachers are incompetent and have to be weeded out. There was little about being supportive, working with colleagues, etc. What a sad reflection of what we have come to - if we let them get away with it.
     
  8. In case any politicans are reading this, the picture is that few school leaders think that the experience they had of NPQH is what is needed to be an effective school leader.
    We would like to see the programme changed but we wish to retain the National College itself because it represents our professional heart.

    The people designing and delivering the National College programmes should be replaced by people with recent senior school leadership experience. The programme content should have the concensus of headteachers via their professional bodies. The programmes should cover leadership issues in relation to their importance and be high on practical advice and low on theory. Sessions should be lead by, or should feature outstanding leaders wth a track record of successful leadership,especially in difficult circumstances. The course needs to prioritise important issues like school evaluation, financial management and personnel issues.

    We approve of the focus of the college's also on Middle Leadership because of the importance of this layer of responsibility but similarly the programmes need adjusting around the qualities required to be an effective practitioner.

    In the light of the 'Importance of Teaching' Education Bill there should be an appropriate focus on supporting and promoting effective teaching and learning. There needs to be plenty of case study evidence so that leaders know by the end of the course how to ensure outstanding teaching and demonstrate outstanding leadership. The Education Bill should be followed up with resources to help school leaders put these things into practice.
    This is my starter for ten. Have I missed anything?
     
  9. God help us!!
    All I can say is that as far as I am aware the NPQH now no longer ends with a residential.
     
  10. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Two maiden posts from the NPQH supporters, I note.
     
  11. Completion of my NPQH was one of the proudest achievements of my career of 20+ years. Some of the criticism levelled at NPQH by posters here is valid - some is not. I have not come on here to address either camp. I've worked for a lot of incompetent Headteachers - people who were themselves poorly trained and had no clue at all about running a school or managing people. NPQH was put in to stop people like this reaching "the top". If it does nothing else I hope at least that NPQH does this. No teacher should have to endure working for an incompetent Headteacher. I did NPQH because I knew these were poor Heads who were not training me with the skills and knowledge I felt I needed because they didn't have them.
    Hays Recruitment contacts all NPQH graduates to ask what their experience was and how they have fared since. This is what I told them in 2008 and my views have not changed;
    1. NPQH is largely meaningless - because every headship candidate has it. It no longer distinguishes.
    2. Most Governing Bodies in Interview mode don't know enough about education - still less about what NPQH represents for their school. Until GB's know what NPQH is - then it might as well not be there.
    3. Most Heads I've worked for think they're the best thing since sliced bread - they think they have what it takes. If they don't have NPQH they are inclined to dismiss it as some sort of "gimmick". Such Heads display their own limitations - and they are gatekeepers - so if they are recruiting for a deputy they tend to bin candidates who have NPQH. This happened to me 8 times in 3 years. There is huge mistrust of the qualification.
    4. Candidates for first Headship with huge experience levels (like me) face issues which NPQH cannot help them to overcome - "Career Trajectory" or "We don't know you in this LA"! These prejudices are not addressed by NPQH, even though my qualification gained in London is just as good as anyone elses'. If you don't fit the mould (like me) NPQH will not help.
    5. LA's in their paranoia have put in still more gatekeeping layers, otherwise known as "succession planning"; Deputies now have to go on this "training" (i.e. Brainwashing) and they do not "get noticed" for headship until they do. NPQH is not important to LA's - because their ex-Headteacher senior officers don't have the qualification and for reasons stated above are prejudiced against it. They would rather have their training in place - and they are the gatekeepers.
    I think NPQH is an OUTSTANDING qualification - it is the jewel in my crown of over 25+ years in education. The problem is that the gatekeepers do not. Until they do NPQH will remain largely irrelevent. So sadly for the 5 reasons stated, I believe NPQH is NOT fit for purpose, that purpose being to get people into Headships with good levels of training. This problem has not been caused by the NCSL, rather - it exists as prejudice and ignorance in other critical places.
     
  12. frymeariver

    frymeariver New commenter

    I completed NPQH 5 or 6 years ago. Does that make me qualified to have an opinion? For what it's worth I am afraid, like many of the people in my cohort, I winged it through large parts of the course (as I was busy doing my job at the time) and threw a lot of time (I didn't really have) at the assessment points. I'm not sure what it is that convinces so many people that this course teaches anything more than a language through which candidates can answer questions about their leadership style at interview. As Middlemarch suggested, there really is no substitute for experience! 5wombats' first point reminds me of a line from The Incredibles in which the son tells his mum that saying that everyone is special is just another way of saying that no one is.
     
  13. frymeariver

    frymeariver New commenter

    I can't believe I have just referenced a Disney Pixar movie to express my disdain for the NPQH. Perhap Mickey Mouse was on my mind...
     
  14. Nice points from @frymeariver. Can't disagree - I know that everyone's experience of this thing is different. For me the points in favour of enrolling on NPQH were clear cut; I had 15 years on senior teams in 3 different schools and was in a vacuum unable to land a DH job. Experience is NOT everything! In my opinion experience is a downright hindrance - Heads/panels were looking at me and thinking; "what's this bloke been doing"!? They weren't interested in anything after that. If there was a candidate with less experience - they got the job - because they could be "trained up"! So I thought I'd save them the effort and get NPQH. It didn't work. The net effect was to make me even more unshortlistable for DH! Why did I bother?
    The point I'm making which I strongly expressed to Hays is that NPQH is irrelevent if it does not give a candidate anything that will enable a panel to differentiate and appoint them. NPQH plainly does not do this. It's not about experience either, 25+ years tells me this. 2 years spent purely on interview techniques would probably be more useful.
    A true "Benchmark" qualification - NPQH was hatched into a world that through ignorance, stupidity and prejudice does not understand or accept it. This position is not likely to change in a hurry and it would be awful if the anti-NPQH brigade won - because this would be a backwards step - a step back to bad headteachers who don't have a clue.
     
  15. wow Mr Lock u had to sign something to say u would not reveal content of the tasks???!!!! Blimey- think they forgot that bit with my cohort!!!
     
  16. Moisy

    Moisy New commenter

    I have just completed my 2 assessment days. I got through.
    It was stressful at times, full on and after day 1 we all left with a headache! Day 2 was less stressful. The assessors were lovely, not out to trick us. yes they watched and listened carefully but they told us they would. In the breaks they were chatty and friendly and at times a good laugh.
    Yes some of the tasks were unrealistic, but they know that and agreed with me and were happy to be told so. They were done to prompt discussion about the skills required to complete the task and to get us to think of ways forward. We did not have to sign anything about the tasks and were not told to keep them secret.
    This is something we have to do in order to apply for Headships in this country, simple fact, like it or not.
    Prior to attending the 2 days I read the posts on here and was starting to regret the decision to do NPQH-why would any intelligent person put themselves through such a horrific experience?? Fortunately, I decided to find out for myself, and am glad I did. They did not tell me anything I didn't know about myself already, in fact they actually confirmed the areas I feel I need to develop. I got to experience developing some skills in tasks that I don't think I would be able to do in any other CPD training for someone at my level.
    I am not saying it is perfect by any means but I do think it is not as nearly as bad as some people have made out on this forum.
    Just saying.......for those of you who may be panicking a little about doing it!!! [​IMG]
     
  17. Someone mentioned the National College discussion forums being a waste of time. They shouldn't be given the amount of effort they have put into networking. Of course no-one ever says anything other than vacuous pleasantries. It is much easier to say nothing than risk being judged on what you might say. You have to consider that they are watching everything you do, and 'being one of them' is what it is all about. Any disagreement and you risk not being invited to join the club and loosing the chance to gain your NPQH passport into the top job.
     
  18. I've been following and contributing to this string.
    I have to say that there are some misleading comments here. Clearly some contributors have had profoundly different experiences on NPQH to mine; My view is that NPQH is widely and sometimes deliberately misunderstood. The environment in education today is such that practically every "initiative" is viewed with deep distrust and paranoia. It's as if NPQH is seen as yet another "conformity device" - but if candidates operate to this brief or come into the NPQH with this attitude then there is really no hope for this otherwise excellent qualification.
    watfordgap2 - at the risk of sounding harsh - NPQH has nothing whatsoever to do "joining the club" or "They are watching everything you do". This is simply not the case. Respectfully - I would ask you to step back and look at the bigger picture; UK schools may all provide the same sorts of curriculum and the same sorts of teaching, with the same limited OFSTED inspection system, and address the same governmental and LA stupidities but they don't all serve the same sorts of communities. A school in a disadvantaged inner city requires quite different leadership to a school in a leafy suburb or in a small country village. NPQH doesn't pretend to be, and can't be a one-size-fits-all solution. Critics claim that it is - but it isn't and can't be. Education is about preparing the next generation for the rigours and challenges of THEIR communities. We all need to get away from this idea that NPQH is about us. It isn't - it's about our communities and how we can get the best for them.
    Having said all that - mine is an idealised view! I know that the reality is a long way from what I've said. The truth is that a powerful cocktail of "being in the right place at the right time", politics and "being a good boy and doing what you are told" is what gets you a Headship. Experience, NPQH, vision; these features are largely irrelevent. In the Headship job market you have to fit the mould, and if there is any feature of you application or interview that falls outside of the mould - then you are a dead duck.
    NPQH is NOT a passport into the top job! It's not a passport to anything - it's just a marker that shows basic competence to manage. Nothing more should be read into it.
     
  19. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I'd like to see or hear the evidence for this claim. That's not my experience nor that of many heads I know.
     
  20. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    Certainly not my experience either Middlemarch.

    I have noticed that the people who rave about NCSL tend to be the heads who seem to very quickly turn perfectly decent schools into hellholes that people want to get out if or which go into ofsted categories. It could be a coincidence.....

    Didn't read a single module, didn't join a discussion group, didn't do anything that I wasn't already doing ( just cross referenced it all on a bloody stupid grid) passed with 100%. Totally meaningless and worthless qualification. Did make a nice bonfire out of the box set though.
     

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