It was just an innocent question but it triggered a fascinating and very productive discussion this morning.
The questioner had been Dee Torrance who had invited me to speak to the most recent cohort of SQH candidates at Peebles Hydro Hotel. As well enjoyed a cup of coffee after the session she popped the question:
“So what is your leadership strategy?”
I don’t think anyone in East Lothian would have asked that question such has been the focus on leadership development. But as I attempted to answer her question it occurred to me that all I was talking about were the opportunities which we now offer to our leaders and prospective leaders. What came out was a list: HT conferences; PT conferences; Depute conferences; leadership seminars; coaching; mentoring; core CPD; exchange programme; SQH, etc, etc.
Dee’s question popped into my mind this morning when I met with some colleagues 3 HTs – Patrica McCall, Dorothy Bartholomew and Freda Ross, Maureen Jobson (Quality Improvement Manager, Learning and Teaching), and Kirsty McRae (Staff Development C-ordinator). The purpose of our meeting was to consider the idea of core CPD for HTs and our HT conference programme for next year.
As we started the discussion we fell into the same trap that I had fallen into at Peebles -i.e. listing activities.
By repeating Dee’s question we started to give some form and purpose to the potentially diverse list of activities.
What emerged was as follows:
East Lothian Education Leadership Strategy (draft)
Our Leadership strategy provides a context for the range of development opportunities we provide for leaders at all levels within the East Lothian education service.
Leadership development activities can fall into one of four inter-related categories:
- Learning and Teaching
- People and culture
- Nurture and well-being
Management – this category has a strong knowledge focus – where leaders are provided with the knowledge necessary to fulfil many of the other aspects of their job.
Examples would include – Finance procedures and systems; IT; Personnel policies and procedures; “Getting things Done”
By having a depth of knowledge and competence in these areas leaders develop confidence that their practice enables them to comply with regulation and demands of the job which often carry a significant stress burden.
There is a need for all HTs to regularly update their skills and knowledge in relation to these areas. It is our intention to offer a programme of seminars in the course of each academic year. HTs will be expected to attend two of these sessions in any one year.
Learning and Teaching – this category will include all development activities which relate to the improving the learning and teaching process.
People and culture – this category will underpin many of the leadership development activities within the other categories although we may offer particular activities which directly relate to the leadership culture to which we aspire in the East Lothian education service.
Nurture and well-being- this category includes all those activities which enable us to nurture and promote the personal well-being of our leaders. Examples would include coaching, mentoring and health at work.
Leadership Training Delivery – As a rule of thumb we reckon that we should make best use of our existing leaders within East Lothian to ensure that we share good practice, capture wisdom, raise self-esteem by asking them to lead 80% of sessions. In order to prevent our service from becoming too insular approximately 20% of Leadership development sessions should be led by people external to East Lothian.
This is obviously work in progress but I reckon we can flesh this out over the next few weeks into something which will give our Leadership programme some real bite.