Committed to constantly improving his outstanding school, and others, Paul Foster, Senior Vice Principal of Hayes School, talks to us about how he has used the OLE programme to develop over 100 aspiring and existing school leaders from the Bromley area – including 66 delegates from his school.
Why did you become involved in the OLE programme?
“For many years, Hayes has been using the OLEVI OTP and ITP to improve teaching across the school, so we relish the opportunity to be involved in the facilitation of the Outstanding Leadership in Education (OLE) programme. We know strong leadership is an essential part of the success of schools, and we wanted an effective, high-quality programme that would develop highly reflective and effective leaders, at all levels of the school, who could confidently build on the school’s considerable successes. The OLE programme offered this.”
What has been the impact of the OLE programme?
- Building leadership capacity at all levels: “Of the 109 delegates on the programmes, almost 60% went on to promoted positions, including three Principals; four Vice Principals; 18 Assistant Principals; and 15 Heads of Department or Year.” Indeed, Paul explained that “one of the reasons the programme is so exciting is that no matter your position, the programme can deepen your thinking and facilitate change”. He recalled a time when a group included a long-standing Vice Principal and an aspiring Head of Department, discussing what outstanding delegation looks like and causing them to reflect on their own leadership behaviour in the process.
- More collaborative and reflective leaders: Through the programme, delegates embark on a journey of understanding their own strengths and areas for development. “Instead of just ’doing’ leadership, delegates had the opportunity to stop, reflect and articulate their leadership behaviours in a similar way as an outstanding practitioner does with their teaching.” Valuing the opportunities for collective learning, and structured time for reflection and planning, has prompted some colleagues to return to the programme for a second time.
- Real change in practice:
Paul insists that the reason for the OLE programme’s impact is that it concentrates on delivering concrete improvements to colleagues’ practice during and after the programme, “unlike other leadership programmes which are often full of abstract theories and onerous tasks. Instead the OLE programme explores these concepts within colleagues’ live leadership challenges, and generates real solutions.” In particular, the programme has empowered leaders to lead strategically with integrity, optimism and empathy; build teams and delegate effectively; as well as drive through improvements.
Paul explained how the programme had allowed him to work with and through his middle leaders to establish consistent practices, from the use of email to the organisation of meetings. “I could influence and, if necessary, challenge how we lead at Hayes in this non-judgemental and collaborative environment, ensuring our ethos is embedded across the school.”