5 things we’re thinking about leadership

Graihagh Crawshaw, Director of School Leadership and Bridget Clay, Head of Programme at Teach First, share 5 ideas on school leadership.

1.    Implementation

Schools are non-stop. Staff are all working incredibly hard for their pupils. Planning for pupil learning is complicated, with lots of moving parts.

So it is not just about having a good idea-it’s about making it stick. Implementation is all about putting ideas into action.

The EEF description in their implementation guidance for schools is spot on: “in our collective haste to do better for pupils, new ideas are often introduced with too little consideration for how the changes will be managed and what steps are needed to maximise the chances of success”.

At Teach First, our programmes include a focus on evidence-informed ideas, and then what evidence tells us about putting these into action:  – identify and check the need, plan to address it, prepare, do and refine those plans, and then sustain and learn.

2.    Prioritising

The other side of the coin to good implementation is prioritising. Implementing change takes time, focus and support. Most professional learning and significant changes to practice will take at least two terms before they set in and start having any impact on pupils. It’s just not possible to implement a long string of things both quickly and well.

There is little, if anything, in schools that is unimportant. Better to do a few things well and with impact, than to try and fix everything but with limited success.

3.    Curriculum

What children learn is at the heart of what schools do. Therefore one of the most important jobs a leader can do is lead an effective curriculum. Middle leaders need rigorous subject expertise whilst senior leaders must set a coherent curriculum that will underpin teaching, learning and, assessment – the core work of the school.

4.    The science of learning

How and what children learn are interlinked so the science of learning should be part of how leaders consider curriculum. And having a strong understanding of cognitive science is important for any school leader; they need to be expert in the very business of schools.

5.    Professional development

Finally, we know that great professional development is important for teacher retention, self-efficacy and satisfaction. But more than that, it is also a critical part of ensuring great pupil outcomes, and it is often a stage of leading any change or improvement.

Yet we know that lots of CPD is not as effective as it could be. Leaders can play a big role in solving this. They can plan great professional learning and consider the culture and environment of their schools. All of which make a difference to how a teacher develops and improves.

With great teachers and brilliant leaders, schools will thrive.

This article originally appeared on the Teach First blog here.

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