Early this year, the Building Learning Foundations (BLF) programme, in collaboration with the University of Rwanda’s College of Education (UR-CE), launched a CPD certificate course in Leadership for Learning for 475 primary school head teachers. The blended learning course is delivered through face-to-face sessions and workplace-based, tutor- and peer-supported learning.
The Continuous Professional Development (CPD) certificate course in Leadership for Learning is designed for head teachers from government schools who were selected by BLF as National and Local Leaders of Learning (NLLs and LLLs). The course aims at strengthening their capacity to drive learning improvement within and beyond their schools. The course was developed by University of Rwanda’ College of Education (UR–CE) lecturers in collaboration with outstanding and experienced consultants in school leadership practices. From its development phase to the kick–start of its implementation, spill–over benefits were gained by university lecturers and primary school headteachers.
Spillover benefits to university lecturers through module development process
Three modules of the CPD certificate course have been designed by BLF consultants who have thorough knowledge and experience in leadership for learning from different countries including UK and Australia. These consultants worked with six UR-CE lecturers. The collaboration between consultants and university lecturers served two main purposes, namely the contextualization of developed materials and up skilling facilitators to facilitate practical, interactive and activity-based learning that could bring about real change in schools. In addition, University lecturers were trained on how to assess students’ learning through building a portfolio, packaged with evidences that show improvement in students’ own learning and practices. Benefits were so great that they spilled over to university students.
Jean Claude Ndagijimana a master trainer and designer for three modules of the CPD certificate course said,
“My participation in the development of the CPD certificate course in Leadership for Learning helped me to learn another perspective of developing academic programmes. I can develop materials that engage learners in activities by developing a workbook rather that content full of unclear theories. My facilitation skills have also improved because now I can provide feedback in actions and not after actions. I appreciate the knowledge and skills I gained from BLF consultants, specifically strategies to engage learners in self-assessment and reflection, and assessment through portfolio – for work-based learning. In general, my benefits from BLF program helped me to change my facilitation skills at university and learning outcomes are likely to improve. For example, I drew from the process working strategies to manage and teach large classes”
Spill–over benefits to primary school headteachers through PLCs and coaching
The kick–start of the CPD certificate roll-out was in January 2019. Participants – 60 NLLs and 410 LLLs attended a three-day face-to-face session on module 1, ‘Being a collaborative and reflective leader for learning’. The training was facilitated by 16 UR–CE tutors.
NLLs and LLLs were introduced to the Leadership for Learning approach. They were helped to explore ways in which they can lead and influence other headteachers through coaching and meetings of headteacher professional learning communities (PLCs). Specifically, NLLs and LLLs gained skills to undertake school self-review. After the training of NLLs, it was evidenced that PLCs became more structured than ever before. As a result of the first module, NLLs and LLLs can take the lead to strengthen the capacity of other headteachers on undertaking school self-review. Therefore, there is a strong hope that more than 2500 primary school headteachers have conducted the School Self-Review which will help them to develop School Improvement Plans for their schools.