The Province established the BC Education Leadership Council (BCELC) in 2005 to build leadership capacity in the K-12 public education system. A Board representing the Ministries of Education and Advanced Education and education partners was appointed to initiate and coordinate leadership programs and provide services in support of this purpose.
School districts, parents and communities demand a supply of well-prepared leaders at the school and school district levels. These leaders must be capable managers in addition to being leaders in improving student achievement. This market is driven by:
• rapid attrition through retirement of individuals in leadership positions,
• labour market competition with other sectors as supply shrinks,
• changing clientele, methodology and service delivery models in the sector,
• increasing expectations of students and parents for the services of public education, and
• an expanded mandate for public education requiring new skills of leaders.
Educational research is clear – the only factor having greater effect on student learning than school leadership is the teacher. Some teachers become school leaders but the preparation and attributes of good teachers are not enough in themselves to make an effective school leader. Government, Boards of Education and school district executive leadership know this and know also that this creates a demand for preparation of effective educational leaders.
The Forces Changing BCELC service delivery
At its beginning, BCELC was advised by the Ministry to establish a foot print of delivering quality leadership development in a sector characterized by ad hoc programming. In its first three years of operation, BCELC
• established a presence and reputation for action among the education partners and school districts,
• built support from partner organizations and a highly dedicated and committed Board comprised of trustees, principals, superintendents, parents, secretary treasurers and government representatives,
• designed and delivered programs that are now highly respected for their excellent content, quality delivery and connection to student learning,
• provided an infrastructure of support to many Ministry of Education initiatives permitting these to be operated in an efficient and accountable manner, and
• achieved ISO status (pending in June)
But, the business model must change. The equity provided by government to establish BCELC will be depleted by June 2009 unless present business practices are changed. This will require that BCELC adopt a cost recovery approach to program delivery and BCELC has committed to do that.
This change in itself is not enough. It will not permit BCELC to continue to serve the educational community with further program development and coordination. It will not permit BCELC to subsidize the significant costs of rural and remote school districts without the capacity or
economy of scale to develop leadership among current leaders and aspiring teacher leaders. BCELC needs an evergreen infrastructure to coordinate and support leadership development in the sector in addition to participating in the delivery of Ministry initiatives. To provide such a structure, a commitment by government of ongoing funding of $1.14M per year will be required.
Who are the Competitors?
BCELC is a not for profit society incorporated under the Society Act and bound by its constitutional purposes. The purposes are those to the sector – the schools, school districts and Boards of Education. There is wide agreement in the sector that these purposes belong to all constituents. In this regard BCELC is without competition.
However, there is the challenge of bringing coherence and coordination to the sector. Partner organizations, school districts and post secondary institutions all bring variations on the leadership theme to the province. BCELC provides a place where those variations can be discussed, reconciled and made coherent.
The province has invested significantly in bringing BCELC to its present profile and capacity. Programs designed and delivered on the initiative of BCELC complement ministry initiatives and directions. Other programs delivered are those of the Ministry of Education managed and implemented by BCELC through contribution agreements. The infrastructure is small and efficient in support of these programs. Why continue the investment?
• The structures are in place and proven.
• The Board representing influential education partners fully supports BCELC.
• BCELC has been tasked with implementing the Teacher Leadership Certificate. BCELC infrastructure is necessary to complete this work.
• BCELC currently manages several Ministry initiatives. Without the required infrastructure, BCELC cannot meet these commitments.
• The leadership programs delivered are of high quality, research based and directly linked to prudent management and improving student learning. The sector recognizes excellence in this resource.
• The majority of school districts in the province have turned to BCELC to meet their leadership development needs, unable to sustain local programs on their own.
New Directions for BC Education Leadership Council
BCELC has already committed to move to a cost recovery model for its leadership training and development programs. This year BCELC has piloted several regional and school district based delivery systems which have promise of improved economies. That said, for some school districts in our province, often those with greatest need, the only viable delivery system is one that is centralized.
The demand continues to grow with little change in rates of attrition over the next five years. Boards of Education will need to make succession planning and leadership preparation a priority if the province is to improve student achievement and become the best educated, most literate jurisdiction in North America by 2015 – and we are acutely aware that our competitive economic edge will depend on achieving that goal for our growing economy.