Urban schools have unique needs and an urban schools leadership competency framework forms the backdrop to a number of development initiatives for head teachers and their teams. The Urban Leadership Centre has used Echelon Learning to develop 360 feedback for its Urban School Leadership Model.
The Urban Leadership Centre has been created to enable schools in urban areas to develop the particular leadership qualities for teachers essential to the challenges of educating pupils in town and city centres.
The Centre offers two tools designed to help urban teachers. The Urban School Leadership Model distinguishes successful school leaders in urban areas and identifies 12 competencies that are common in outstanding head teachers, while the Urban Leadership Pathway is a development plan based on the competencies for raising leadership skills and standards at all levels within a school.
The Urban Leadership Model takes candidates through activities reflecting real urban contexts covering behavioural event interview, a case study, a lesson observation and a group exercise. The project assessors are all former successful urban head teachers.
Joan Fyfe, the former urban head teacher, seconded in 2003 to the ODPM (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) to explore school leadership in challenging environments, founded the Centre in conjunction with the National College for School Leadership. She stresses the developmental nature of the Model.
"The programme is called a development centre as opposed to an assessment centre because the emphasis is on development," she says.
"Assessors assess candidates to capture their strengths and development needs. Once candidates have been through the process they will receive feedback from the key assessor assigned to them followed by a coaching session."
The Echelon online 360 feedback is a powerful diagnostic tool, providing participants with helpful feedback on specific development areas in relation to the competencies.
Feedback can be either standalone or provide an additional body of evidence for candidates attending the assessment centre.
An impartial, objective and forward-looking process, it provides objective evidence on user performance and development needs from a variety of people with whom they interact in the workplace. Targeted coaching and development can then support individuals.
Response from urban education leaders to the Model and its latest enhancement has been highly positive, says Joan.
"Local authorities adopting the model can identify and manage talent pipelines for their urban schools and importantly gain an accurate perspective on staff performance and training needs across all their schools," she says. "Individual schools can also accurately communicate, through the competencies being reviewed, the inspiring nature of urban school leadership."
One user, Diana Owen, head teacher at Huntingdon Primary School, Nottingham, describes the Model as both ‘exciting and inspiring’.
"The framework recognises the qualities needed to be a successful urban head teacher," she says. "I think it will have a profound impact on the status and achievements of school leaders. Working on this has made me privileged to be the head of an urban school."
Released July 2007 on behalf of Echelon Publishing by BLP&PR
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