I have been a teacher for 31 years, a head teacher for 16 years and, at the age of 55, this much I know about…how NOW is the time to pursue the National College of Education leadership qualifications.

In December 1980 I was chucked out of school, a term into my A levels, and pursued my sporting dreams as a golfer. By September 1982 I was a jobless failure. The unemployment rate in the UK was 11% and rising, a level unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The bleak economic numbers seemed depressingly permanent.
On Saturday 28 August 1982 at around 10 p.m., Cliff, the barman at the local pub, offered me a job behind the bar; on the following Wednesday I went back to school and I began my A levels again as my year group was leaving.
Learning is the best medicine. I turned to educating myself at a time when the future looked hopeless. Professionally, I have always pursued improving my own and my colleagues’ expertise with an eye to the future rather than the present. When we have struggled over the past ten years with our school budget, I have ring-fenced funding for staff training when cutting the staff training budget would have been a relatively painless short term saving.
Ironically, one of those pressures on our budget in recent years has been the Apprenticeship Levy. Whilst we have employed apprentices, it has been difficult to take advantage of the tens of thousands a year we pay HMRC. Recently, however, I have been teaching on the Senior Leaders Masters (Northern cohort) for the National College of Education.  They have a range of leadership programmes that can be fully funded from the Apprenticeship Levy:
Future Leaders Programme (Level 3)  – A twelve month programme for line managers working in schools in teaching and non-teaching roles who are at the start of their leadership journey;
Education Management Programme (Level 5) – An eighteen month programme for current or aspiring middle leaders;
Senior Leadership Masters (Level 7) – A two year programme for senior leaders on the leadership pay scale.
I have been working on the Senior Leadership Masters programme with Stephen Tierney, @leadinglearner, and it has been an absolute joy. Stephen and I bring our 60+ years of experience of working and leading in schools to the excellent programme materials, setting them in the context of day-to-day of school leadership.
Indeed, beyond our contribution, the Masters programme draws from a range of sources, a blend of generic, business and educational leadership expertise which we will need to navigate these extraordinary times.
I cannot recommend the National College programmes enough.
In the next few months, I will be bringing the leadership thinking I outline in my latest book, co-authored with MAT CEO Jonny Uttley, Putting Staff First, to the sessions I teach. Putting Staff First is a book which Professor Sam Twiselton describes as “a thing of beauty”. According to Professor Dylan Wiliam, Putting Staff First is “one of the very few books that I would recommend that every single school leader should read.”
So, as we ponder the reopening of schools and worry about the next few weeks and months, remind yourselves that this too shall pass. There will be years of rebuilding our schools, our economy and our society, and our future school leaders will be central to getting our country going again.
As I discovered nearly forty years ago, the time to invest in your future is when the world looks its bleakest.
If you are interested in one of the National College of Education qualifications, register your interest here.
Now is the time to invest in our future school leaders.

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