Nurturing talent and growing your own

Nurturing talent and growing your own
Date21st Mar 2022AuthorClaire HolmesCategoriesTeaching, Leadership

Nurturing the talent of employees is essential. It sounds obvious, but quite often organisations overlook this. 

Talent management seeks to attract, identify, develop, engage, retain, and deploy individuals who are considered particularly valuable to an organisation. To be effective, it needs to align with a college’s development plan. By managing talent strategically, colleges can build a high-performance workplace, foster a learning climate in the college, add value to their brand, and improve diversity in management.

At John Leggott College, we strongly believe that investment in the talent of our employees is of the utmost importance. So what benefits does it truly reap? Our commitment to talent:

  • Enables us to strategically attract skilled and talented employees
  • Motivates and helps to retain our staff body 
  • Enables the development of skills needed for critical roles and supports succession planning
  • Encourages continuous learning
  • Contributes to inclusion and diversity
  • Improves employee performance and organisational effectiveness
  • Helps us to retain top talent

Our talent development programmes link to other learning and development initiatives within the college including informal as well as formal learning opportunities.

At John Leggott College we have introduced the following programmes which nurture and develop talent within our workforce:

  • Aspiring Leaders’ Programme
  • Newly Qualified Teachers Programme/Recently Qualified Teacher Programme

These programmes are tailored and bespoke to meet the college’s/staff’s needs. Within this blog we would like to share with you a quick snapshot into these programmes and the impact they are having; at the bottom of the page, you can find the full list of sessions in each programme.

Aspiring Leaders’ Programme

This bespoke programme was designed to ensure that aspiring leaders in the college are equipped with the skills they need to take the next step in their career development. The college wanted to invest and develop the talent of our employees, both teaching and support staff. 

The programme consists of mandatory and optional workshops/activities tailored to meet candidates’ personal professional development needs. Our programme is delivered every two years and has been designed and shaped around our college’s core and cultural values. It encompasses the strategic leadership objectives as outlined in the College Development Plan. Through participation in this programme, we equip aspiring leaders with the skills to be successful.  This benefits the college and evolves into the delivery of outstanding leadership.

As a college we want to ensure staff who obtain promoted posts are able to thrive, flourish and be successful. Too often it is assumed that leadership skills will come naturally without training and development. Our programme endeavours to mitigate this and provide appropriate training and support. 

As part of the programme, participants are expected to contribute to a whole-College Project to practice their skills/knowledge. For example, participants have developed online induction material for new employees, and worked on re-engaging Level 2 learners and raising their aspirations. Throughout the Aspiring Leaders’ Programme participants are assigned a Mentor who meets with them regularly to develop their skills.

Here’s what our staff have said about the programme:

“The 'Aspiring Leaders' programme equipped me with a great base to move into middle-management within the college. The range of sessions gave me an in-depth insight into the challenges of our sector and the knowledge needed to lead a team and work more collaboratively across different departments. The optional sessions meant that whatever path interests you, whether it is curriculum, teaching & learning or pastoral support, there is something for everyone! The support from a mentor was extremely useful for me personally, offering both support and challenge during the time on the programme - enabling me to reflect on my skill-set and plug any gaps that were missing.”

Jamie Watkinson, Leader of Teaching, Learning and Innovation

“I completed the Aspiring Leaders Programme in 2020 which enabled me to progress from a position as a recruitment officer, to the role of Summer School Coordinator, followed by the Learner Pathways Lead. The programme benefitted me in many ways, providing me with an understanding of various management styles, and allowing me to reflect on my own strengths and weaknesses as well as develop my understanding of the education sector and the colleges priorities for our learners.”

Samantha Robinson, Learner Pathway Lead

Newly and Recently Qualified Teachers Programme

At John Leggott College we recognise that our NQTS and RQTs need tailored and bespoke support.  With Covid-19 impacting on the time NQTs had spent delivering TLA face to face, we felt there was further need to support this group with gaps in their knowledge as a result of the pandemic.  In recognition of this we developed and embedded our own NQT and RQT programmes.  

The principle aims we have are:

  1. To provide new teachers with a bespoke programme of development – tailoring the programme to their needs as the year progresses. 
  2. To enable NQTs to meet teacher standards and develop the required skill level to pass their NQT year (if applicable).
  3. To develop teaching staff to meet the expectations of JLC. 
  4. To promote a culture of personal development, allowing us to retain quality teaching staff.
  5. To promote professional curiosity by involving new teachers in TLA development and investigating up-to-date educational research.
  6. To enable new teachers to observe all forms of teaching practice across the college, ultimately giving new teachers the ability to develop their individual styles of teaching.
  7. To provide opportunities to collaborate with each other and the wider college, embedding them into the JLC community. 

Our programme was structured to nurture the talent of our NQTs, focusing on key components we felt were essential in inducting and supporting our NQTs to develop their teaching craft. We also gave additional remission to support our new recruits with the art of reflective practice. With the success of the initial NQT programme, we realised that our RQTs could also benefit from a bespoke programme to nurture and develop talent further, touching on new topics and differentiating teaching; this led to the creation of the Recently Qualified Teacher Programme. Within both programmes, participants are assigned a coach and receive regular instructional coaching as well as participating in workshops and reflective practice sessions.

Here is what our participants said:

“The coming together of NQT with RQTs every week was incredibly helpful as we were able to see what ideas people had used to try and use these within our lessons. The process of peer observations, having staff come into our lessons and vice versa to develop strategies as a collective, is empowering as a newly qualified teacher. It makes me feel a sense of community that as a college, the programme was there to help you by gaining experience from other new teachers as well as from experienced teachers around the college.”

Alex Gough, Law and Criminology Teacher

“The sessions have specifically helped me improve my direct questioning techniques and the ability to bounce questions around the room to check for understanding.”

Christa Stephenson, Criminology Teacher

We ended the year with a celebration of achievements.

In summary, at John Leggott, we are passionate about nurturing talent development, and we strongly believe investment in staff through programmes like these will reap long-term gain. Hopefully this blog will give you some inspiration or ideas for your own professional development programmes.

Claire Holmes is Deputy Principal at John Leggott College.

Topics for the Aspiring Leaders Programme

Mandatory sessions

1. Launch of Aspiring Leadership Programme - Introductory Session - Strategic Plan/Governance (including introduction of 360 degree/reflection activity) 

2. Core/Cultural Values for Aspiring Middle Leaders (Leadership behaviours) 

3. Changing landscape of the College Sixth Form Sector 

4. Curriculum intent, enrichment, and student support (Linked to EIF) 

5. Finance and budgets 

6. Managing up! (non-negotiables)/ Support and challenge 

7. Data analysis for performance and progress 

8. Developing yourself and others 

9. Human Resources (Procedures and practice) 

10. Quality assurance. At end of the 10 mandatory sessions a meeting will be held with your Mentor to review targets/progress of your initial 360 degree feedback.

Picture 1

Topics for the Newly and Recently Qualified Teachers’ Programme


  • Lesson Expectations at JLC with an overview of our Core Values.
  • Sequencing - How to develop an outstanding lesson that fits into an outstanding curriculum
  • Assessment for Learning. What works best according to research? How to adapt to students’ needs, Including questioning, formative assessment strategies, modelling and worked examples
  • What makes great teaching? Shining a light on how to recognise and embed it.
  • Feedback - Moving beyond the conventional and meeting the needs of your learners
  • Technology for Learning. What’s available and the importance in the digital climate
  • The ‘O’ Word – An awareness of the EIF and knowing what to expect.
  • How to pay attention. A brief introduction to cognitive science and the impact on our students in allowing them to become independent learners.
  • Next Steps. Reflection on NQT Year/First Year of Teaching. Creation of longer-term PDP and identifying ‘career goals.’


  • Live Modelling (Subject & Curriculum)
  • Structured Lessons
  • Forward Feedback /Assessment
  • Positive Framing/High Expectations
  • Manage Behaviour
  • Scaffolding learning
  • Good Progress- successful students
  •  Structured Lessons
  • Adapt Teaching
  • Pitch It Up – stretch and challenge
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