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Leading Learning


How to become a creative subject/department leader?

Often headteachers charged with improving schools previously judged satisfactory had inherited systems that were not fit for purpose. Performance management procedures frequently lacked impact. Where schools have remained stubbornly satisfactory it is fundamentally because the actions taken by leaders have insufficient impact on driving up the quality of teaching.

Improving teaching often involves collaborative work and different learning strategies across the whole school, learning communities and so on. Rigorous monitoring and evaluation procedures are needed to identify the strengths and weaknesses of teaching, learning and leadership. This includes leading senior leaders and governing bodies in drawing up school improvement plans that have systematic procedures for monitoring and evaluation embedded in them.

Regular progress meetings quickly establish the responsibility of staff at all levels for their pupils’ achievement, avoiding an ‘excuses culture’.

The quality and extent of professional development are not only key to school improvement but also a significant factor in retaining staff. The first step in taking over an underperforming school may be to embark on a process best termed ‘re-professionalisation’.

In order for teachers to appreciate what good and outstanding teaching looked like, best practice has to be shared and celebrated.

Headteachers must recognise the importance of fostering stronger partnerships with pupils and parents. This benefits pupils’ achievement and their well-being.

Once staff are trained and working effectively in school, heads should try their best to retain them by providing opportunities to further motivate them.

Themes for improving schools from successful heads:

  • insisted that all pupils could achieve highly regardless of background
  • established a non-negotiable requirement for good teaching; satisfactory teaching was not good enough
  • accepted nothing less than good behaviour from pupils
  • expected teachers and leaders to improve their work and to be responsible for their own development
  • changed the curriculum so that it met the needs of all pupils.

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