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Case study: NPQs - a learning journey

We spoke to Lilly Wreford, a senior leader at Astley Primary School.

I want to think outside the box, try new things, but have the back up of research to support my ideas.

Lilly started her teaching career at Astley as an Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), as a one-year maternity cover. She finished her contract and had said goodbye to her year 1 class; however, she was offered a permanent position in the school at the start of the new academic year, a week before she was due to go travelling.

Upon her return to the UK, she took up the role of a class teacher in an oversized year 2 class containing 35 pupils – a challenge by anyone’s standards. But Lilly accepted the challenge and more, taking on subject leadership of PE, a subject she is passionate about and still leads now. Over the next few years, she developed her classroom skills and realised the importance of gaining experience across a range of year groups.

During an annual performance development meeting, she expressed an interest in leadership and learning more about how to encourage collaboration and develop staff. As a result, she applied for and was accepted on to the National Professional Qualification in Leading Teacher Development (NPQLTD).

This was the perfect balance of teaching, supporting others, and developing my leadership skills and knowing that I was going about things in research supported way.

Lilly found that the course covered key elements with which she was already familiar, but provided a practical and insightful approach to applying those active ingredients to her own setting. She was encouraged to think more concisely about the importance of involving colleagues, and making sure things were explained clearly and key pieces of thinking shared. She developed enough confidence in herself and her decision-making to apply for a senior leadership team (SLT) secondment, which allowed her to further expand her understanding of school-wide implementation and the development of staff.

The NPQLTD gives me a point of reference: it encourages me to make my actions clear, to be explicit.

After a change of staffing at the end of last year, Lilly was offered a permanent position on the school’s SLT. This role allows her to experience all elements of leadership, from pastoral and safeguarding issues to curriculum development and staff training. She receives dedicated SLT time when she works on bigger projects, such as developing English (as the new subject leader). She finds the variety of the role exciting and rewarding and enjoys how she plays a part in creating the culture of the school. The challenge of problem-solving and doing something different and unexpected makes every day interesting and a learning opportunity.

In everything she does, Lilly considers the implementation cycle that underpins so much of the NPQ framework: she thinks carefully about what needs to change and why it needs to change, and what is the desired impact for pupils and staff. She is deeply reflective and considers multiple lines of enquiry - no knee-jerk reactions to a problem. Lilly thinks about what the school needs now, what must be prioritised, and - most importantly - how this can be shared with others. As a result of this, she feels that communication has become more open, and staff are keener to co-operate and participate.

You have to show you are being considerate. You need to make things really clear: that’s when people come to you.

As a result of this new position, as well as an appreciation of the knowledge and skills she gained from the NPQLTD, Lilly has begun her NPQ in Senior Leadership (NPQSL). She believes that this course will allow her to fine tune her leadership skills and add to what she has already gained from her previous NPQ. It is not simply a case of ticking off qualifications, but developing a shared language and understanding of how she can influence and impact others. She wants to gain a better understanding of how to support people, build her own capacity to undertake her new role effectively and find out what she does not know. She has a drive to find out more, learn what is new and see what else she could be doing.

Are you inspired by Lilly's story? Find out how to start your NPQ journey here.