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ISQAM – the Acronym of the Future?

So you have just got your first promotion and have made it into middle leadership - fantastic! The trouble is that your problems have only just started. Where was all the training that was supposed to equip you for this role? That one day course on management that you attended did not seem to prepare you for all the things that your contemporaries seem to take for granted. You have not even started work yet and people want a timetable allocation and a budget submission. So what do you do now?

You are the new boy/new girl and so people will probably give you a bit of slack but you wanted to start by making a  good impression, not by asking for help all the time. You may have the right philosophy (they did offer you the job after all) but what you need now is some basic practical advice.  The solution to your problems is ISQAM – the key acronym for anyone becoming or wanting to become a manager in an independent school.

ISQAM is the Independent Schools Qualification in Academic Management and is designed to help new Heads of Department, HoDs, deal with their role. The pilots have also shown that even some experienced HoDs have found this programme very useful. If you are a pastoral manager rather than an academic one, do not worry, a pastoral version of the qualification is being developed even you read.

My own view, having seen the early stages of the qualification, is that it will become the industry standard in a few years’ time. People will be using it a selection criterion when they draw up short lists for any HoD role. On top of that, the candidates who have completed the qualification will definitely be providing the right answers at the interview stage. Long term, I also believe that it will actually revolutionise management in independent schools and the whole system of private education will benefit as a result. The number of participants has grown each year since the pilot in 2013, and nearly 400 middle leaders have already taken part in the programme. This is quite significant number for a qualification that is only just finding its feet.

CPD Co-ordinators say that training a few new managers is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to assessing ISQAM’s impact.   “It has brought a focus on middle management development that I could not have achieved any other way,” one senior teacher said. “Several management areas, including coaching and the use of baseline data, have gained  a high profile in the school as a  consequence of  ISQAM’s arrival,” she added.

This is a direct result of the practical nature of the qualification and its wider implications for education should not be ignored; indeed, they may provide the biggest benefit of all. ISQAM is clearly making a name for itself in a variety of ways.

The question is, do you want to get involved?
Putting it another way, can your school afford not to?

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