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Do you find some school leaders patronising?

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Do you know school leaders who are not able to differentiate the learning context (including developmental appropriateness) between teaching young children and leading adult education or a team? Unfortunately, many staff members do find some school leaders patronising...

If you think you do not fall into this category as a school leader and consider yourself able to adjust to your audience accordingly, then what evidence do you have?

School Senior Leader presenting to staff
School leader

A research degree (or course work) such as a Master of Education (MEd), specifying in leadership, may be an option for many school leaders aspiring to be the best school leader that they can be. However, more recently, many school leaders found this to be an expense that they couldn't afford, especially of their time. Hence, the UK Department of Education directed the design, development and delivery of National Professional Qualifications that could be a starting point and accredited towards a MEd degree. They "provide a complete 'golden thread' of continuing professional development (CPD) for schools, from the early stages of teacher development through to executive leadership" (NPQs for UK Schools | Best Practice Network). These include:

NPQ Senior Leadership/ NPQ Headship (leading a school)/ NPQ Executive Leadership (leading more than one school)

- National Professional Qualification (UK) is a government led course which can be used as credits towards a Master of Education degree for a small number of identified universities. This varies from 15% - 50% credit but is not equivalent. (School Leaders - how to spot the cowboys/cowgirls... Yee-hah! (

While the NPQs are regarded as practical evidence of research in schools, research suggests that they are not the only evidence. There are other equivalent evidence accreditations that are not as widely known amongst educators. Hence, it was recommended that all NPQSL programmes be aligned with other UK Government education accreditation programmes within education and leadership. One such programme that evidences equivalent practical experience is Fellowship within the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

Senior Fellowship in the UK Higher Education Academy (SFHEA, 2021) is awarded to experienced educators able to demonstrate, impact and influence, responsibility for leading, managing or organising programmes, subjects and/or disciplinary areas within Higher Education (adult education). However, while this SFHEA educational accreditation, evidence a readiness and ability to be an effective senior leader, it is yet to be acknowledged as Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) by DfE. A recommendation to come from research is that all NPQSL programmes be aligned with other UK Government education accreditation programmes. (Lynch, 2022, p. 16) Leading school recovery from the impact of Covid-19: two birds, one stone (

The Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education (adult education) 2023 is globally recognised and "emphasises effectiveness and impact, inclusion and context, as fundamental aspects of practice... its contribution to reward and recognition is unsurpassed, being used by individuals, institutions and national bodies." (Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education 2023 | Advance HE (

The aims of the Framework include:

The UK Professional Standards Framework (2011).

1. Supports the initial and continuing professional development of staff engaged in teaching and supporting learning

2. Fosters dynamic approaches to teaching and learning through creativity, innovation and continuous development in diverse academic and/or professional settings

3. Demonstrates to students and other stakeholders the professionalism that staff and institutions bring to teaching and support for student learning

4. Acknowledges the variety and quality of teaching, learning and assessment practices that support and underpin student learning

5. Facilitates individuals and institutions in gaining formal recognition for quality-enhanced approaches to teaching and supporting learning, often as part of wider responsibilities that may include research and/or management activities

Specifically, a Senior Fellow evidence:

SFHEA description
Senior Fellow Higher Education Academy 2011


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