Heads of departments who took part in a training course saw approximately one in 12 pupils in their department make an extra grade of progress, new research shows.
Participation in Teaching Leaders – a training programme for middle leaders – was associated with an increase in pupil attainment of approximately one twelfth of a grade.
Rebecca Allen, director of Education Datalab and co-author of the Teaching Leaders research, said: “It is unusual to find a leadership training programme that improves pupil attainment, as this one appears to. Our research shows that when a head of department took part in the Teaching Leaders course, approximately one in 12 pupils in their department made an extra grade of progress.”
But the new analysis did find that the effect did not emerge until two years after the programme, which suggests that the benefits of leadership training take time to filter through into improved pupil learning.
Research into the course – run by charity Ambition School Leadership – also found that middle leaders who participated were more likely to stay working in a state school in England than their peers.
Concerns about wellbeing
In the year after completing the training programme, 86 per cent of participants remained in teaching, compared with 77 per cent of similar teachers.
But there was no association between participation and middle leaders still working in their original school in the year after the programme, the research found.
As part of the research, carried out by Ipsos MORI and Education Datalab, an online survey of more than 500 participants on Teaching Leaders was carried out. This found that:
- Over three-fifths of respondents (63 per cent) had been promoted since completing the programme, and 84 per cent of those who received a promotion did so within one year of completing the programme;
- But over half of survey respondents (57 per cent) felt that the programme had a negative impact on their personal time;
- One-fifth of respondents (20 per cent) reported that the programme had a negative impact on their wellbeing.
The reports, commissioned by the Department for Education, also show that participants of the charity's other programme for aspiring headteachers, Future Leaders, progressed into leadership roles faster than average.
James Toop, CEO of Ambition School Leadership, said: “It is exceptional for a leadership programme to have a direct impact on pupil attainment, so we are delighted with this aspect of the findings, as well as the many other ways that they identified success.
“These evaluations validate our work over the past decade and demonstrate that it is a long-term project.
"We now want to build on this success by supporting the leaders we’ve already worked with to develop them further and by finding more leaders who are committed to having an impact on the life chances of our most disadvantaged children."