The Best Professional Development Programme I have taken part in.
By Alison Morris
Assistant Principal at The Queen Elizabeth Academy and Secondary Behaviour Lead for ATT
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
The ASLDP is the best professional development programme that I have ever taken part in. From the start, it was rigorous, challenging and pushed me so far out of my comfort zone, but I thoroughly enjoyed every single aspect of the course. My only question is, can I do it again?
A Bit About Me
My name is Alison Morris and I have been an Assistant Principal at The Queen Elizabeth Academy in Atherstone since January 2020. I have been involved in Pastoral since the second year of my teaching career and Pastoral and Behaviour is an area of education that I am extremely passionate about. I love the challenge that this role brings to me each and every day. I am also the Secondary Behaviour Lead for the Academy Transformation Trust, leading our Trust community and developing Behaviour strategies across all of our academies. More recently, I have also been involved in the DfE Behaviour Hubs programme completing Trust programme and presenting to colleagues from different academy trusts and the DfE around behaviour and pastoral strategies and leadership.
Why the ASLDP?
The main reason I applied for the ASLDP was because it was an opportunity for me to concentrate on my personal leadership development and to take time out to focus on me and my career. And I have to say the programme did not disappoint. Having recently completed the NPQSL and the Trust Behaviour Hubs programme, the ASLDP seemed like the perfect next step for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed my role as a Trust Behaviour Lead and to have the opportunity to work with our Trust Executive Leadership Team in bespoke leadership training was important for me in developing my leadership skills and knowledge.
It is difficult to write about my experiences without giving too much away about the programme. The main aspect of the programme is the two-day residential. This is possibly an area that may put some potential applicants off, however, I can honestly say that it was absolutely worth it. Having the opportunity to focus completely on yourself, your own personal and professional development for two days and to meet like-minded colleagues was incredible. During these two days, we were put through numerous scenarios, independent and group tasks and leadership roles that were designed to challenge your thinking and your leadership skills and styles. One of the best aspects of the residential was that you are asked to take on a leadership role that you might not have considered before or have any experience of. The learning was challenging, fast-paced but so rewarding.
Prior to the residential, we attended an introductory session where we were introduced to the international bestseller ‘Surrounded by idiots’ by Thomas Erikson. This session enabled us to consider our leadership style, what leadership ‘colour’ we were and to meet our fellow colleagues. Following on from this we then completed the ‘Colour Works’ profile and had a bespoke 1:1 session with Holly from Colour works. These sessions were designed to evaluate our leadership styles, our strengths and areas for development. It really gave the opportunity to understand yourself as a leader and how others perceive you too.
The final aspect of the ASLDP is the 6 months of leadership coaching. This has enabled me to continue to reflect on my leadership styles and ability and to continue with my learning and development from the programme. My coach is superb at ‘getting me to talk’ and to reflect on my current leadership successes and stresses, as well as offering further development. The coaching ensures that the programme is not just a ‘one-off’ event, but a continuous programme of development.
I cannot, however, finish writing about my experiences without mentioning the other nine colleagues on the programme. We went into the residential knowing little about each other. The ASLDP provided us with the environment to build a strong support network and friendships. We regularly communicate with each other with messages or anecdotes, but also support and advise each other in our leadership roles. I have not experienced a professional development course before that has created such a strong bonding experience and network.
Application of Knowledge
The whole experience has given me the confidence to be assertive in my leadership and to show my educational values. Through the scenario activities, I have become much more conscious of other people (and their colours) and how I present myself to others. This has made more deliberate in what I do and what I say. This is a real positive because it helps me to think about how I can draw the best out of other people and develop them as individuals and leaders. Finally, it has also highlighted areas that I want to develop. My experience has only been in Pastoral and Behaviour, so I am now line manager for a subject area and looking to develop my experience in finance.
- Be confident in your abilities. You have got to the position because of your experience and abilities.
- Adaptation is crucial. You must adapt your leadership styles to the situation and the individual, however, always be true to yourself.
- Areas of development are not a weakness. Acknowledging these areas and developing them is a strength.
- Enjoy the experience and the process. Don’t shy away. Commit 100% to the programme and the experiences offered.
The Aspirant System Leader Development Programme is an incredible experience. It made me think very differently about how I approach leadership and my abilities and expertise as a leader. Take the opportunity today and apply. You will not regret your decision.