My name is Jeremy Griffiths and I have been a head teacher since 1996 in three different primary schools in North East Wales. I have also worked for the local authority as an adviser and have always had a real interest in leadership and management styles and techniques. I studied for a Master’s degree in business administration and became a chartered manager with the CMI, with whom I am now a Fellow.
In 2017 I was honoured and privileged to be selected as an Associate of the National Academy for Education Leadership. The twelve Associates across Wales were selected from a variety of different educational backgrounds and regions to represent practicing head teachers in Wales. The journey so far has been extremely interesting, challenging but above all exciting.
The first task was to get to understand what the Academy stood for, including its vision and values and of course the success criteria for us as Associates. Alongside this work, we as a group were getting to know each other, our strengths and weaknesses and learning to work together as a unified team. To be honest, this work was quite time-consuming, but well worth the effort to ensure a consistent understanding of purpose for us all. This vision has been co-constructed by many people, but in my opinion the real driver has been Kirsty Williams, AM Education Minister. She, as always, has shown a real passion to enable us to become system leaders, to drive up the standard of education leadership across the system in Wales.
The National Academy is one part of the reform agenda in Wales. The opportunities to make changes to our education system have never been so great, for this generation of the teaching profession. The reform agenda is being truly guided by a research evidence base and constructed by talented groups of practitioners and expert advisers. This takes Wales in a completely different direction from England and academics from across the world are looking to see how Wales progresses. As the first Associates therefore, working with a design team, we have to ensure that an incredible programme of leadership development is available and ready for future cohorts of education leaders.
I personally have grown in knowledge and understanding because of the research and reading that I have undertaken. What matters is that we find what is best for our context in Wales. This has so far involved looking at some of the best systems across the world, both in terms of pupil outcomes, professional satisfaction and successful leadership development. Raising the status of the profession along with the well-being of all those who work within it is a key priority. A fully motivated and professionally developed workforce will rise to any future challenges, looking for ways to continuously improve.
Our National Mission is an ambitious strategy for Welsh education and I believe there has never been a more exciting time to be in education in this country. Reforms of the curriculum and reviews on inspection, initial teacher training and teacher pay and conditions will require excellent leadership for successful implementation. The National Academy has a significant role to play collaboratively with other agencies. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get our collective Academy voice heard in this National debate and to contribute to the effectiveness of the Welsh education system. Please follow our website – www.nael.cymru – to keep up with developments and join the debate.
Jeremy Griffiths is Headteacher of Ysgol Gwynedd, Flint and a NAEL associate