Research in Practice - the NPQSL Journey


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By Tim Patteson, Assistant Headteacher, Chesham Grammar School

My professional development pathway, from middle to senior leadership, has undoubtedly been enhanced and accelerated by my pursuit of the NPQSL, supported by the Astra Alliance.   The qualification took 18 months to complete and was highly compatible with my ‘day-to-day’ work, as well as providing unique opportunities to work across departments and schools.

The qualification is essentially split into three parts – the online reading and discussion forums, the face-to-face training days and the whole-school project. There are four modules to complete online, and two of these are core modules (Closing the Gap, Succeeding in Senior Leadership).  The two additional modules could be selected from a wide range of options.  I chose Teaching and Learning as well as Leading Professional Development as these fitted well with my role as a new senior leader at Chesham Grammar School.  Each online module lasts for three weeks and involves reading the latest research in to an issue and then posting thoughts in a discussion forum.

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However, this was not all distance learning!  There are also four face-to-face training days, all led by professionals with huge amounts of Senior Leadership experience (my training days were run by a Headteacher and Assistant Headteacher). The training days provided us with opportunities to gain an insight into Senior Leadership and to discuss whole-school improvement strategies. They were also an opportunity to share ideas and experiences with other Senior Leaders / prospective Senior Leaders.

I found the key part of the qualification was the opportunity to lead a whole-school project. I led a project to develop formative feedback in marking across the school. The project involved working closely with the Deputy Headmaster. In addition, I worked with different teachers across the school and used student questionnaires as evidence for the impact of the project. The key findings of the project were that the most effective way of enabling students to make progress is the marking that has a specific focus and which also requires students to respond to the marking directly (eg through answering a question, re-writing an answer or re-writing a section of an essay). The project enabled me to develop my experience of working on something that would have a whole-school impact.  

The NPQSL itself enabled me to gain a real insight into Senior Leadership and is something that I would recommend to other Senior Leaders / prospective Senior Leaders.

To find out more about the NPQSL and other leadership development opportunities for 2016/17, please contact Stephanie Rodgers at the Astra Alliance / Dr Challoner’s Grammar School -