In a rapidly changing leadership landscape, organisations like SELT need to play a dual role of being a positive driving force at the forefront of leadership development and at the same time responding and adapting quickly to respond to the needs of those we serve: the individuals, teams, learning communities and system leaders in public service, in our local authorities, our diocesan partnerships, in our schools and ultimately supporting the life development of our children. By way of introduction it is appropriate to say something about SELT’s origins, history, purpose and ethos.
It was in 1996 that SELT’s antecedent organisation, Education Management South East (EMSE) was formed as a partnership of local authorities, dioceses and higher education institutions in order to participate in the delivery of the unique national leadership development programme for headteachers, now the mandatory requirement for maintained school leaders, the National Professional Qualification for Headship. (NPQH) Our unbroken involvement in this programme to the present day ensures that this development remains central to our offer and it has throughout the intervening years, served hugely to define our moral purpose, our quest for the highest quality provision and the unending objective to improve the lives and life chances of our nation’s children.
The original geographic remit for our working in the early EMSE days was a comparatively small corner of the South East drawn around the combined county boundaries of Kent, East and West Sussex and Surrey. This has progressively grown in respect of our national contracts to cover in some instances, as with NPQH for example, the whole of the South of England. As a direct result of our growing remit and particularly to reflect increasing work in the South West, SELT has two administrative and leadership centres, one in Sittingbourne, Kent and the other in Taunton, Somerset.
SELT was formed in 2006 as company limited by guarantee with charitable status. The formality was determined by the size of the national contracts we deliver and the not-for-profit ethos determined naturally by the public funding which sustains the same work. Governance of SELT is therefore vested in Trustees rather than shareholding directors. Trustees are representative of sectors in education and public service, namely local authorities, dioceses, higher education and schools. The Chair of Trustees is the nationally and internationally renowned Professor John West-Burnham. Working with the Trustees is a Strategic Partnership Board constituting representatives from all of our individual partner organisations.
The breadth of work in which SELT is involved has grown enormously over time, with formal leadership programmes not only at school headship level but also in middle and senior leadership in schools and children’s services. As an organisation committed to making sense both for ourselves and for others of ongoing research and development in leadership generally and in education in particular, we foster continuing enquiry, research and partnerships with similar and complementary organisations as well as individual experts on a national and international basis. We also like to maintain our positive and celebratory approach through leadership festivals and conferences.
We continue to offer delivery as designated and accredited providers of the wide range of national school leadership programmes working with the National College and TDA and also have a growing portfolio of our own leadership programmes and workshops focused on emerging needs of leaders today and derived in constant dialogue with those working in the field, taking account of local as well as wider contexts. It is a hallmark of all of our work that our reputation for quality is always sustained and commented upon in review.
We are also committed to dialogue with any parties keen to develop tailor-made provision to meet emerging need so we invite anyone who recognises the potential of SELT to support individual and collective needs in particular contexts to enter discussions with us without prejudice.
We hope that everyone will recognise in our work and in particular in the human interaction a people-based organisation with a sense of care and pride in furthering to the best of our ability our objectives to enhance the process and outcomes of leadership development to maximise the benefit to our children and those who work with them.