What do leaders need? And what do they need most?

What do leaders need? And what do they need most?

Susan Young outlines 23 characteristics of outstanding leaders and leadership teams

Susan Young looks at what makes an outstanding school leader.

17 July 2017/Number of views (1069)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Learning to research: good for teachers, parents and children

Learning to research: good for teachers, parents and children

Susan Young shines a spotlight on the benefits of evidence-informed teaching

Susan Young talks to Early Years teacher, Jane Flood about becoming part of a Research Learning Community.

13 July 2017/Number of views (1146)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun

James Ashmore on why middle leaders need to remain optimistic

James Ashmore writes on the importance of staying optimistic as a middle leader.

03 July 2017/Number of views (1109)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
PE and Sport for achievement

PE and Sport for achievement

Guest Blogger Dominic Judge Asks: how can PE and Sport contribute to whole school well-being and performance?

How can school leaders use PE, physical activity and sport to tackle issues of childhood obesity and mental well-being and to drive whole school performance?

20 June 2017/Number of views (887)/Comments (0)/
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Exploring the reality of support and provision for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs

Exploring the reality of support and provision for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs

Jean Gross explores the current provision and support for children with SLCN

Jean Gross outlines the provision and support for children with SLCN.

16 June 2017/Number of views (1382)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Social mobility and attainment – what can Middle Leaders do?

Social mobility and attainment – what can Middle Leaders do?

What teachers and schools can do to help

In the UK today, there are areas where a staggering one in six children are currently living in poverty (Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission).

05 June 2017/Number of views (1703)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Using speakers to inspire young people

Using speakers to inspire young people

How one charity brings high profile speakers into schools

 The charity, Speakers for Schools, gives access to top quality speakers for free

22 May 2017/Number of views (2093)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
What impact could coaching have in your school?

What impact could coaching have in your school?

Lara Ginn, an NAHT Edge Advisory Council member, explores the benefits of setting up a coaching team.

Within a school context it is essential to ensure a level of consistency; a common approach to coaching sessions is important.

09 May 2017/Number of views (2408)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Getting started with video CPD (Part 2)

Getting started with video CPD (Part 2)

Developing a supportive culture and establishing a solid programme.

Exploring video CPD: developing a supportive culture and establishing a solid programme. 

20 April 2017/Number of views (2685)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Getting started with video CPD (Part 1)

Getting started with video CPD (Part 1)

Exploring video CPD and practical strategies for getting started.

Christophe Mullings, Head of Education at IRIS Connect, explores video CPD and practical strategies for getting started.

19 April 2017/Number of views (2675)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Recognising leaders who’ve made a difference

Recognising leaders who’ve made a difference

The BELMAS Reflective Practice Award for innovation and critical reflection in education is now open for entries.

The BELMAS Reflective Practice Award for innovation and critical reflection in education is now open for entries

 

17 March 2017/Number of views (3844)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Chasing happiness

Chasing happiness

Guest blogger James Ashmore asks: As a middle leader, what else could you do to raise your team’s happiness quotient?

Guest blogger James Ashmore asks: As a middle leader, what could you do to raise your team’s happiness quotient? 

06 February 2017/Number of views (2507)/Comments (0)/
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Making a difference for autistic girls and women

Making a difference for autistic girls and women

Broadcaster and campaigner Carrie Grant asks how girls with autism can find their voice, and are we truly listening?

How does an autistic person get heard and understood? How do they find their voice? How do we hear their voice? And are we giving space to hear the autistic voice?

30 January 2017/Number of views (3601)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Managing your time

Managing your time

Guest blogger James Ashmore looks at the conflict between a middle leader's personal and professional life

You may feel that your work/life balance is seriously out of kilter and that moving into middle leadership has done nothing to redress this, in fact it’s made it worse.

06 December 2016/Number of views (3723)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Recruitment, retention and middle leaders

Recruitment, retention and middle leaders

Why are schools finding that there is a shortage of middle leaders?

In the short term a dedicated middle leader can make sacrifices, willing to take on more because they are not only ambitious for themselves but committed to high quality education for pupils within their school. But is this sustainable asks Lara Ginn? 

21 November 2016/Number of views (4269)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Teacher Workload: The Elephant in the Room?

Teacher Workload: The Elephant in the Room?

A personal perspective from Lara Ginn

Teacher workload is among one of the greatest issues schools face nowadays. Over recent years this has become a source of wide scale discussion within the profession and in the media. The government has, through recent independent reviews, endeavoured to identify some of the primary factors causing the heavy workload faced by teaching staff and means by which all stakeholders can redress this.

16 November 2016/Number of views (3970)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
“Death neither obeys the school timetable nor appears on it… It enters the classroom without knocking”

“Death neither obeys the school timetable nor appears on it… It enters the classroom without knocking”

Supporting bereavement

By the age of 16 at least one child in every classroom (1 in 29) will have experienced the death of a parent or sibling (Penny & Stubbs, 2015).

08 November 2016/Number of views (3373)/Comments (0)/
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Securing and growing great practice in your team

Securing and growing great practice in your team

Top tips for growing great practice

Middle leaders are increasingly recognised for their pivotal role in developing the quality of practice. So how is this being achieved, and how can you plan for this?

24 October 2016/Number of views (3077)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
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Running Successful Meetings

Running Successful Meetings

Five top tips

Running successful meetings is an often overlooked skill but one that will almost certainly be required of you as a middle leader. The times you have together with your team can be critical to your success and so it is vitally important that they go well. 

18 October 2016/Number of views (4670)/Comments (0)/
Categories: StaffBlogs
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Girls and Autism: Flying Under the Radar (nasen 2016)

Girls and Autism: Flying Under the Radar (nasen 2016)

If you were asked to describe a typical student with autism, what would you say?

It is becoming more and more widely understood that there may well be as many girls and women with autism as there are boys and men, but their needs are not always being identified.

04 October 2016/Number of views (3762)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
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New middle leaders: what issues do they face and what training would help?

middle leaders

 

Newly appointed middle leaders could benefit from some tailored training in their new roles, according to a new research project.

Paul Irvine, who interviewed twenty-five middle leaders in an independent boys’ school for his doctoral research - and was himself a middle leader until this summer - says this group of professionals face a range of challenges when they take up the role.

“It became apparent just how much of a step change the participants experienced in moving from leading and managing children to leading and managing adults. It was clear that, whilst teachers have developed leadership and management skills within their classroom practice, this did not prepare them for leading their peers…”says Irvine’s paper, Middle leadership and its challenges: a case study in the secondary independent sector.

In other recurring themes from his research, middle leaders spoke of how they found difficulty in identifying the bounds of the role, felt constrained by the school’s culture, and suffered from lack of time. Accountability was a challenge, while many participants said managing staff was the hardest element of the job, because different people had different opinions, and because they were frequently managing colleagues at varying stages of their own careers. 

The middle leaders interviewed also felt “sandwiched” between senior leadership and those they lead - some of whom had priorities in other departments. They found the job was often reactive, and complained of a lack of preparation. “It’s one of the steepest learning curves I have been through,” said one. 

Irvine would like to see more support for those taking up middle leadership.

“For me I’d start by explaining to them that there are specific challenges that they are likely face - and the wider literature suggests that it doesn’t matter what type of school you’re in, the problems are likely to be similar. I’d say, you are not alone in finding that leading and managing adults is difficult, or that you are a piggy in the middle - but there’s nothing you can do about that, so there’s no point fretting over it. However, I’d then move on to discussing the enabling factors in your job - things you can actually do to change or overcome the difficulties you face.”

Irvine, who presented his work at the BELMAS international conference in July, said his research had suggested “clear, identifiable factors that make the role of the middle leader possible.”

These included having a clear aim, or as one participant put it, “setting out your market stall at the beginning of the year…so they know expectations and can respond accordingly.”

Another important factor was being “the dominant practitioner,” a finding Irvine says isn’t widely acknowledged in the existing research into the role. But as one of his subjects said, “It’s very important as a head of department that your department think well of you, and look up to you for having some experience that they haven’t got.” Having some space to reflect on what they were doing was important, particularly if it helped them understand their own leadership style, he found. Several of his subjects said part of this was about being “true to themselves”.

Another important theme that emerged was knowing and understanding departmental members well. This included building trust and respect, and creating emotional ground because, as one participant explained, knowing staff well “made sure that you’re using their strengths rather than putting them into a situation where it’s their weaknesses that come out.” 

The paper said the step change from classroom teaching to leading and managing adults required the middle leaders to draw on experience “and it was interesting to see where this came from.”

The research suggested that experience at previous schools, such as running trips or writing schemes of work, was useful. Participants also called on transferrable skills, such as from being a member of a band and performing together. The third method was asking the advice of people who had done a similar role. “Experience was expressed as a key enabler by many of the participants. It gave them previous scripts on which they could draw, thus allowing them to make swift intuitive decisions,” says the paper. 

Irvine, a design and technology specialist who has just retired from teaching, thinks research needs to be undertaken around middle leaders because the empirical evidence into their role is currently sparse. 

Irvine would encourage others to pursue academic research whilst teaching, as he has done. “Yes, it’s been pretty full-on for the last four years, but I did a Master’s in coaching and mentoring and enjoyed applying sound research techniques to school practice. Combining 36 years of classroom experience with doctoral level research is already opening new doors for me, which is fantastic.”

Middle leadership and its challenges: a case study in the secondary independent sector was presented at the annual conference of the British Educational Leadership Management and Administration Society (BELMAS) by doctoral student Paul Irvine (P.A.Irvine@2012.ljmu.ac.uk).

BELMAS is an educational leadership research association open to school and college leaders as well as academics, and encourages members to generate and share ideas and good practice. BELMAS is an independent voice supporting quality education from effective leadership and management, and membership is free for the first year. Find out more at www.BELMAS.org.uk

 

 




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