Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills
I promised the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee that I would update the National Assembly on progress with the implementation of the revised National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) in Wales.
The NPQH is a mandatory requirement for all practitioners in Wales who want to become headteachers. A review was recently undertaken of the arrangements for professional standards, performance management and continuing professional development for the school workforce in Wales. The outcome of this review concluded that the current arrangements in Wales required major revision.
This resulted in a new approach for the NPQH in Wales as detailed in the Headteachers’ Qualifications and Registration (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2011. The main change was to make the NPQH a rigorous practice based assessment of practitioners by experienced professionals against the then National Standards for Headship. Research by Estyn and others had demonstrated that the old model of delivery was not working and change was needed.
The new approach was tested in 2011 by means of a pilot programme. The principles underlying the new approach are well established and based on international research. Therefore, the aim of the pilot programme was to test the process adopted to award the NPQH.
I am pleased to inform members that the Pilot programme of the revised NPQH was a success and, furthermore, was regarded by stakeholders as a clear improvement on the previous model of delivery. The revised approach to the award of NPQH has now been rolled out to a new cohort of candidates across Wales using the new Leadership Standards.
At the conclusion of the Pilot my officials engaged with a wide range of participants. These included consortia representatives, senior professionals who had been involved in assessing the candidates, the candidates themselves and those from the local authorities that had supported candidates during the process.
The overwhelming message across Wales is that the revised NPQH is rigorous, robust and challenging and only those who can demonstrate that they meet the Leadership Standards will achieve the qualification and go on to lead schools in Wales. The pilot also clearly succeeded in its key aim of encouraging candidates to reflect on their practice and focus on impact.
The success of the pilot required goodwill on the part of consortia and practitioners across Wales, I would like to pay tribute to their willingness to work with Welsh Government in this important area.
Where there were lessons to be learnt we have listened and made the appropriate changes for the national roll-out. The roll-out itself is now almost complete ensuring that there has been no break in the provision of headteachers for schools in Wales. The roll-out featured a larger number of candidates (82), all of which have now been assessed. Moderation has concluded and the results for the round have been confirmed, subject to any appeals. The roll-out has also proceeded well and, when it has finally concluded my officials will look into any further lessons to be learnt for future rounds.
Reviewing the situation with regard to the optimum number of candidates for future rounds will be an ongoing part of the NPQH process. In assessing requirements for future, we will work in liaison with local authorities and educational consortia in order to get the correct balance between matching numbers of NPQH candidates to likely future vacancies on the one hand, and ensuring a competitive field of candidates for each vacancy on the other.
This new approach to the NPQH will help to ensure that those candidates who gain the qualification can evidence the standards, skills and attributes required; and that they are ready to take up headship posts.
Our school leaders have a key role in improving standards in our schools. The revised NPQH is a key component in ensuring that the next generation school leaders have the necessary skills and attributes to deliver real improvements for the children and young people of Wales.