The National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL), an agency of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, is currently accepting applications for the next cohort of its Aspiring Principals Programme (APP) in April 2021.
The training is designed to adequately prepare individuals for the role of principalship prior to being appointed to the post.
Principal/Director of NCEL, Dr. Taneisha Ingleton, tells JIS News that the APP was developed out of the need to improve skills in school leadership.
She notes that despite studies on the critical role of school leadership in ensuring student success, good classroom teachers continue to be promoted to the post of principal without first being equipped with the requisite training.
“The APP, therefore, serves as an opportunity to attract talent, identify high-quality applicants and ensure that a ready supply of trained participants are conferred with the Professional Qualification for Principalship (PQP),” she points out.
The nine-month modular programme will be delivered through the University of the West Indies (UWI) at both its Mona and Western Jamaica campuses.
Dr. Ingleton tells JIS News that the training is delivered through synchronous and asynchronous modalities and engagements, and includes technology-enabled learning, coaching and mentorship, problem-based learning activities and field projects that require participants to explore, analyse and evaluate solutions to authentic problems of practice.
Participants are immersed in the rich and contextually relevant content covering transformational leadership, community leadership, instructional leadership, and organisational leadership.
The April cohort will be the eighth since the training programme started in April 2014.
More than 500 educators have been trained, to date, with 140 ascending to principalship.
Among them is Principal of the Cumberland High School in St. Catherine since 2017, Darien Henry, who graduated from the APP in 2016.
He tells JIS News that the programme equipped him with the skills to lead the process of transforming the school, which was once regarded as a failing institution.
“I went fully prepared with the necessary skill sets that I would have acquired under this programme. This allowed me to make a significant impact on the school and where the school is at now,” he says.
He says that he found modules such as transformational leadership and community leadership to be “highly instructive” and which prepared him for his new role.
Mr. Henry is encouraging persons who aspire to become principals to participate in the course.
“Principalship is not about the person but is about what they do and how they influence the children positively, and, therefore, I would not recommend anybody to take principalship without being exposed to the rigours of APP,” he says.
Principal of the Jessie Ripoll Primary School in Kingston, O’Neil Stevens, tells JIS News that the experience gained through the APP was invaluable.
“As head of a department at another school, my principal recommended me for the programme and I applied and was accepted. Initially, I thought it would be a normal run-of-the-mill course, which would allow for young persons to be a little more qualified, not thinking that it would have such a significant value,” he tells JIS News.
“This programme, I believe, is for 21st century leaders, and is not just for a school leader but anyone who is aspiring for a leadership position,” he says, adding that “it really helped us to think outside of the box”.
Principal of Beulah All-Age in Clarendon, Nadine Gayle Little, tells JIS News that by participating in the training she was “moved into a higher realm”.
“APP equipped us with the tools and empowered us with the skill sets that we would need to become effective leaders, to become game changers, and to communicate effectively. “We learnt how to navigate the various issues and the context that we will find ourselves in from time to time. It also helped us to understand our purpose and why we do what we do,” she says.
“There was so much out there we needed to know that we did not know, that the aspiring principal programme would have effectively taught us,” she adds.
NCEL is responsible for developing excellence in leadership as a common dominator in the country’s schools and supporting institutions. For further information on the APP, persons can visit NCEL’s website at ncel.gov.jm or visit the entity’s Facebook page.