Having been an associate in cohort 2 for 9 months now, completed the first set of learning experiences and got stuck into our commission – it seems like a good moment for reflection!  It’s been a busy few months getting to know a diverse and dedicated team of associates and staff from all over Wales who come with a wealth of knowledge and experience from Welsh and English medium schools, primary and secondary phases, faith schools and federations and working with them to develop the new mindset of a system leader.  Over that time, our work has really come under 4 main headings :

1. Professional Learning

From Mererid Hopwood to Laura McAllister, and Andy Hargreaves to Pak Tee Ng, we have learnt from leaders at the forefront of the profession as well as some of the primary thinkers from Wales and around the world.  We have learnt about, and experienced coaching first hand and thought about how to develop these skills in ourselves and the teams we work with, both in school and in our work with other associates.  We also continue to implement the Leadership Academy’s endorsement process to ensure that good quality leadership training opportunities are identified for schools to access, which has helped me to reflect on our National Mission and to ensure that providers are supporting it through their offers.

2. Representing the Profession

At this challenging and exciting time for schools, we have also relished the chance to speak on behalf of the profession to policy makers and those who will shape the future of education in Wales.  We have met with the children’s commissioner and the Welsh language commissioner as well as representatives from Estyn, the minister herself and her officials.  This is an important element of our work and one that we feel is starting to have an impact on the many areas of change we are experiencing in schools today.

3. Our commission

In response to the minister’s remit letter to the Leadership Academy, we have spent time shaping the question for our commission: What is the role of educational leadership in realising the vision of a Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language? As we progress this research project we have engaged in discussion about the vision for our nation, analysis of current language data trends and interviews with school leaders, members of the middle tier, academics and policy makers.  We have also debated at length how and what to present in response to this question.

4. Promoting the Academy

The final area of work has involved sharing an understanding of the Leadership Academy and its contribution to leadership more widely.  We have contributed to the Leadership Academy’s first national conference, and have shared its vision of ‘Inspiring Leadership – Enriching Lives’ with our regions, authorities and local forums in a series of roadshows and other events.  In addition, fellow Associates have visited Ireland to discuss the ‘Leadership development for schools programme’ there and the parallels with our own work.

And so, as the Christmas holiday approaches, and as I hang up my stocking and prepare my festive trimmings, I look back on a busy year with significant satisfaction.  I have learnt a huge amount about leadership, the educational vision for our nation and crucially about myself.  I am sure that the school, community and students that I serve, have benefitted from this learning process and I look forward to developing my ongoing contribution to the wider system.  

Ian Gerrard – Head of Ysgol Aberconnwy