Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language
Following the Independent Review of Leadership in May 2022, I announced that we would commission an independent review of the National Professional Qualification for Headteachers (NPQH).
The review was undertaken by Professor Mick Waters between September 2022 and March 2023. Professor Waters was supported by a reference group, whose role was to provide timely insight, advice and challenge. Over 250 people took part in the review, either as individuals or in small groups, representing a range of stakeholders from across the education sector.
Today I am pleased to publish Professor Waters’ report ‘Learning to be a headteacher for Wales’. It concludes that the current Aspiring Headteacher Development Programme (AHDP) and NPQH assessment is well managed and administered and there is considerable effort to ensure fairness and equity for all candidates. However, this has resulted in the development of a generic programme that is no longer sufficient to prepare prospective headteachers for the realities of the role. The report makes 25 recommendations for significant revision of both the content and structure of the AHDP and NPQH assessment.
The review is just one element of the work we are undertaking to improve the support provided to our education leaders. Developing effective system leadership is central to the education reform journey described in Our National Mission and is at the heart of the work that the National Academy for Educational Leadership is taking forward through its Associate model. Over 60 senior leaders in the education sector have benefitted from being an Associate since 2018 and have been immersed in the highest quality professional learning opportunities available from across Wales and beyond.
The launch of the National Professional Learning Entitlement is a clear signal of our commitment to ensure that everyone in the education system has access to professional learning. We are now working on a professional learning portal that will make it easier for practitioners to access professional learning. Leaders have a key role to play in ensuring that all practitioners can engage with professional learning.
Last month we published guidance on the use of INSET and the professional learning grant. The guidance emphasises the importance of ensuring that teaching assistants have access to professional learning. Leaders will have a crucial role in making this happen.
The National Academy for Educational Leadership already endorses professional learning for leaders which they monitor to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the system. Before the end of the summer term, I will be sharing further details on the arrangements to quality assure professional learning provision across the system and how to better understand its impact.
I welcome Professor Waters’ recommendations, which will need to be taken forward collaboratively by Welsh Government and key stakeholders. A group will be established to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in the development of the revised NPQH arrangements. Members will include representatives of the Education Workforce Council, Estyn, universities, the National Academy for Educational Leadership, regional consortia, local authorities and headteachers. I have asked Professor Waters to continue in an advisory capacity. The aim is for the revised programme and assessment arrangements to open to candidates from autumn 2024.
I would like to thank Professor Waters, the members of the reference group and all those who participated in the review. The recommendations will improve our support for headteachers ultimately benefitting the entire education system and, most importantly, our learners.