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NPQ case study: why you should consider facilitating

We spoke with Jen Goakes, Headteacher at Astley Primary School and NPQSL facilitator.

Our people should be our priority

Jen Goakes has been Headteacher of Astley Primary School for five years. She started at the school as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) in 2007, progressed to the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) in 2010 and became Assistant Headteacher in 2014. She left Astley briefly in 2016 before returning as Deputy Headteacher in 2018.

Since becoming Headteacher, Jen has devoted much of her time to building a team of people who feel valued and confident in their roles. She has done this by ensuring that continuous professional development (CPD) is open to all, and guaranteeing that high quality training is woven into appraisals and career progression. She is a keen believer in, and advocate of, National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) and the empowerment they bring to her staff.

Jen participated in the previous format of project-based NPQs, undertaking the NPQ in Senior Leadership (NPQSL) as an Assistant Headteacher and leading the roll-out of Read Write Inc in the school, and then the NPQ in Headship (NPQH) as a Deputy Headteacher/Headteacher. She found the project-based style of the qualifications time-consuming and inflexible, and felt they occasionally lacked some of the fundamental research that now underpins the current suite of qualifications. However, even though there were flaws in the earlier format she still benefitted from the reflection they provided and the opportunities to develop a wider, whole-school understanding of leadership. Perhaps most important was the ability to be outward-facing and spend time in different schools looking at alternative ways of doing things, which provided Jen with inspiration.

Having been a participant and adopting an ever more outward-looking perspective on educational development, Jen was excited by the chance to become a facilitator of the new NPQSL for the Julian Teaching School Hub. As someone who believes that “you should never stop learning” and that NPQs offer “a brilliant opportunity”, she took to the facilitator training like a duck to water.

Jen recognises that her facilitation of the NPQSL has strengthened her understanding of leadership and had a positive impact within her own school.

As a facilitator I can see the bigger picture.

She is a more confident communicator, with an embedded understanding of how to engage with people from a variety of settings and contexts. She has further developed her understanding of implementation and practises what she preaches by ensuring staff are well-informed of changes,  and provided with a clear rationale which ensures buy-in. As someone who “is here to develop people”, she makes this a priority of the projects the school undertakes.

I love NPQs! The participants are so impressive and I learn so much from them.

Jen has found that working alongside developing school leaders constantly gives her new insight and perspective. She not only keeps on top of current education theory and research through the course content, which is “relevant and reliable”, but can also see how research is used and applied in different ways, in different schools, with different outcomes.

Are you inspired by Jen's story? Find out how you can apply to facilitate an NPQ here!