Frequently Asked Questions
NCEL as an emerging entity is a derivative of the MoE’s modernization programme and is therefore designed and purposed to be the Ministry’s professional development agency for its system and school leaders in line with the recommendations of the Task Force Report on Education Reform, 2004.
Accreditation is the process by which a determination as to whether or not an institution or programme has been found, through self-study and peer review, to meet or exceed established standards for educational quality. Accreditation is intended to strengthen and sustain the quality of tertiary education, making it worthy of public confidence [UCJ, 2013]. Though the entity is named a National College, it is not a tertiary institution and as such does not offer academic programmes. Its focus is the preparation of leaders who are able to function effectively so as to meet and or exceed the Ministry’s standards for leadership which were developed in 2012. NCEL is unique in that it offers professional development that complements academic reading while providing access to the plans and policies of the Ministry that are to be executed at the school level.
Though not a requirement for short courses/professional development/training, the MoE opted to pursue accreditation of NCEL’s in-service programme for school principals so as to confer marketable value to the programmes and allow for commercial forays where the College is enabled to underwrite some of its own cost, easing some of the burden on scarce budgetary resources.
The process of obtaining accreditation for its in-service programme has begun and is concurrent to the process of establishment for which there are procedures to be followed. Regarding the latter, the College is through the MoE’s ESTP is at an advanced stage to be legally established as a government entity under the MoE. With respect to the former, the self-study which is a stage in the accreditation process has been initiated. It is of note that accreditation is an evidentiary process and as such involves evaluation and assessment not only of the rigour and robustness of the programmes, the quality in their delivery but also the outcomes of the training process. For these reasons the process, of necessity, is not a short one.
We have no information that would support this statement. However, it should be noted that a standard that is negotiable is not a standard. NCEL’s purpose is designed not to leave to chance the competence of persons who are placed in leadership positions. It is a necessity if the failures in leadership identified through the NEI’s reports are to be remedied. NCEL is about adding value to how education service delivery is led. In that regard NCEL is uniquely placed to deliver on what the system needs.
The MoE requires that all principals undergo specialised training as is the case in jurisdictions outside Jamaica. With pending legislation, only NCEL certified principals will be engaged by the Ministry. The fact that the MoE through NCEL is moving towards accreditation is in fact commendable.
Some principals have also noted that they find it difficult to manage the demands of running a school while attending to NCEL requirements at the same time, some principals have asked that they be given at least a month to focus solely on NCEL because the work load is too much, is this a proposal that the college would entertain?
Again we have no information that supports this statement and we conduct evaluations of each of our sessions as a part of our internal quality assurance process which provides opportunity for participants to share their views. Principals undergo 2 - 3 days of training during which time they are exposed to some eight competency based modules the focus of which is on the practice of leadership; not the theory. The nature of competency based training is such that participants are required to be on the job and demonstrate competence in the fundamentals of school leadership and management. They are given a term [at least three months] within which to fulfil these requirements. The time the College allots to complete the programme is in line with international best practice
NCEL’s programmes are modular in nature. The Effective Principals’ Training Programme for instance is comprised of 17 modules which are delivered in two rounds. Successful completion or Round 1 results in the issuance of a “Promotum’. The remaining 9 modules are also done over time so as to create that desirable mix of training and practice which is the hallmark of our programmes. Participants complete the training over a 2 – 3 day period following which they have two weeks to generate a growth plan which is reviewed against predetermined standards. Subsequent to feedback and approval, implementation is done over at least one school term following which a professional portfolio is submitted. An assessment comprising document analysis, school visits and interviews is undertaken. A transcript is then prepared and issued to the Principal, the Board Chair and Regional Office.
Media reports some time ago indicated that there were principals who refused to do NCEL programmes, what progress has the college made in terms of dealing with defiant principals?
The average attendance rate is 90%. The initial challenge was that some Principals had had difficulty following through on the requirements post training. That is no longer the case. In fact, since 2014 we have had to increase the number of workshops arranged as Principals have been clamouring for more training. Overall compliance is now at 92%.
Is NCEL now mandatory for all principals, how does NCEL decide which principals need to join the programme?
The in-service programme is the pathway to licensure. To date almost 600 principals are enrolled in the programme. That represents 60% of the number of persons who lead our primary and secondary schools. NCEL does not identify persons for training. There are protocols between the College and those agencies of the MoE that are ideally placed to have first-hand knowledge of the needs of the system, including leadership and the NEI, JTC and Regional Offices; as a consequence, the persons identified for training are nominated by those three entities. We take a targeted approach and as such, principals who are appointed [provisionally or permanently, principals who lead schools rated as being unsatisfactory or in need of immediate support and principals who need additional support given as recommended by Education Officers are first enrolled for training. All Principals will eventually be enrolled. NCEL, as stated before is purposed to add value and support leadership at all levels.
Yes, our services are available to the Private Sector. We have been contracted by the Jamaica Independent Schools’ Association to deliver training to their members starting July 2015. The programme has been very successful locally so much so that the College was engaged by the Government of the British Virgin Islands to deliver training to their Principals. Additionally, the programme in December 2014 copped a Bright Spot Award for its innovation in leadership development from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.
NCEL has been labeled as an inferior offering when compared with a degree from the University of the West Indies. The contention from school administrators is that if they have training from the UWI in their area of work then they do not need to do NCEL programs. How would you respond to this argument?
It is rather unfortunate that anyone would opt to so compare professional development and training to academic degrees. One is not the substitute for the other. UWI offers undergraduate and graduate degree programmes which espouse leadership theory. Those programmes are necessary as they empower you with knowledge that is vital to the functions to be undertaken as school leaders. NCEL’s programmes are practice based and are also necessary as they develop competencies and skills. The research is clear; every successful educational system across the globe [The UK, USA, Australia, Finland and Malaysia just to name a few] all have professional development programmes for their school leaders. If Jamaica is to realise Vision 2030, it will need to ensure that its education sector drives national development and empowers system and school leaders to create and sustain effective schools.
NCEL has also been described as a duplication of effort given that the UWI already offers programs in educational leadership, how would you respond to this?
There is no duplication as what NCEL does, does not exist anywhere in UWI or any other tertiary institution. These entities offer academic degrees. NCEL’s offering takes current research, best practices, law, government policy and regulations and translate them into training materials in a manner which ensures Principals are equipped to lead twenty-first century schools.