Friday, July 18, 2008

First-time Principal Programme

The first week of the study-break had me finishing off my certification for the programme in this post's title. This is an eighteen month programme hosted by the University of Auckland with funding from the Ministry of Education. It's designed to help first-time Principals get to grips with what they are about, what they have to tackle, what they don't know, and with what they actually know! A tallish order and it's a programme that has its strengths and weaknesses. Having done a similar kind of programme in the UK (called The NPQH - National Professional Qualification for Headship) I would have to say that on the whole I was more challenged and got more benefit from the much more hands on approach of the NPQH.

[sidebar - I found zero interest in the ideas used in NPQH when I explained them to the organisers of the F-TPP, and when in the UK I found organisers of the NPQH had zero interest in the Masters in Educational Leadership degree that I'd just completed in NZ prior to taking up a position in a UK school. Why is that? It surprised me a lot that the closed view was held in both cases.]

The certificate for the first-time programme encompasses three residentials spread over those eighteen months, a series of professional learning groups, the assignment of a mentor or two (thanks to Mark Bowden and Jill Usher who were mine), shadowing exercises, and some on-line material.

When I went to the first residential last year I felt overwhelmed by the theoretical stuff and felt exhausted (all three residentials are in our study-breaks). I was also amazed at the sheer numbers of new Principals (about 300 in my intake year) - most are in primary schools but three were in secondary schools in Taranaki.

The photo shows my fellow first-time Principals from Taranaki - Allan Miles from Coastal Taranaki area school and Jenny Gellen from Waitara High School. My thanks to them for their considerable support along the way. I hope I've reciprocated.

This last residential introduced me to the ideas of Mark Treadwell. Along with some of my colleagues I enjoyed Mark's entertaining style and his personal touch. His statement that passionate teachers make the best teachers touched a chord with many of us. His call for a new paradign shift in education given that oral language/oral communication is the #1 skill required in the 21st century was also well received. I enjoyed in a similar way the keynote address by Dr Julia Atkin which gave me a new appreciation for the context of the new NZ curriculum. I also attended some really worthwhile workshops on leading the ethical school, and Derek Wenmoth's digital technologies workshop introduced me to the idea of 'twitter' that I want to explore more this term.

Finally I am happy to report that the educational jargon was well down this time around (maybe because less MOE people gave addresses?). The results from my sessions were as follows - 'bang for buck' had 3 mentions, 'baby out with the bathwater' 2, 'reinvent the wheel' 2, 'drill down' 2, 'unpacked' 3, and the clear winner was 'underpinning' with 8 mentions.

That's it for the programme. If you're an educator visiting my blog I urge you to check out the following: Mark Treadwell and (or just google him) and Derek Wenmoth's blog at

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