Research and inspections show that the key to unlocking the full potential of pupils in our schools lies in the expertise of the teachers and head teachers, it’s therefore vital that subject leaders (SLs) are effective as possible in their role.
The National Standards produced in the 1990’s outlined expectations and aims in this role and in the 21st century this summary remains a very useful reference point. It states that the aim of SLs is to “provide professional leadership and management for a subject, to secure high quality teaching, effective use of resources and improved standards of learning and achievement for all pupils”.
Recently, head teacher of a well respected UK school shared these tips which have improved the schooling and performance of the pupils at their establishment:
- Share knowledge of your subject with key stakeholders
The SL for PE at his school writes a newsletter each term for parents and governors to keep them informed about the latest developments in PE. The newsletter ensures the subject remains fairly high profile and provides an opportunity to also share success stories, achievements and ideas of staff and pupils in the area; makes everyone feel more engaged.
- Purchase the best resources for the job
Purchasing the right teaching resources from a trusted supplier will add value to teaching and learning in any subject and whilst budgets may be limited it’s good to know that with the completion of a simple application form you can apply for grants, bursaries and donations that many trusts still provide for specific subjects; teaching resources and aids used need to be up-to-date and as stimulating as possible for pupils.
- Share planning resources internally and externally
The SLs at this particular school created planning and resource sheets which they make available to teachers at their school and also to those of other schools. They do not charge for this service, the aim is simply to help and support other SLs structure and develop their teaching. They record the details of the external users and as such have created a network of expertise and a forum for sharing.
- Exhibit your achievements
Keep an ongoing portfolio of your work as evidence; include pieces of outstanding work with photographs of the children in action plus positive feedback from both pupils and parents. This gives you an opportunity to show off your achievements and impress visitors, governors and inspectors.
- Communicate with the head and other SLs
Head teachers are more than happy for SLs to approach them individually or in groups to discuss their ideas for future development or initiatives as well as sharing their findings from any monitoring or analysis you have done. Don’t be afraid during these times to pick their brains too. Working together and sharing means that everyone is on ‘the same page’ and ultimately the school benefits.
Performing any level of leadership role in school is tricky, and as an SL over time you will take on many roles from expert teacher, support and analyst to counsellor, demonstrator and adviser. You will be a motivator, a partner, a leader, an observer, a listener and a guide. It is not an easy role but one when you can visibly see the positive impact you have had on pupils, and staff; you feel it’s all been worthwhile.
- License: Creative Commons image source
John Baines is primary school teacher turned head-master who understnads the difference that teaching methods and reources can make to a child’s learning. He reccommends Hope Education for the best teaching resources.