Middle leaders to get new status as troubleshooters

3rd June 2011 at 01:00
They will advise neighbouring schools on raising standards

The Government is preparing to create a new status for middle leaders that will see them parachuted into neighbouring schools to help them improve their results.

Heads of department and heads of year will soon be able to apply to become a specialist leader in education (SLE), who will advise counterparts on how to raise standards.

SLEs will be tasked with improving the middle management of schools - classroom teachers are already able to call upon Advanced Skills Teachers and heads can use national leaders of education.

Once approved for the status, SLEs will be listed in a directory so heads elsewhere can call upon their expertise, The TES has learned.

It is expected they will work closely with their local training schools, the Government's plan for a network of primaries and secondaries that will oversee teacher training and continuing professional development in their area.

The new role - which will also be open to bursars and business managers - comes as many local authorities are forced by swingeing budget cuts to take the axe to the number of school improvement partners and consultants they employ to help drive up local results.

The National College is now consulting on the role, and says the next 12 months will be spent "developing" it.

Its deputy chief executive, Toby Salt, said: "Great middle leaders are the engine rooms of school improvement and the SLE role will create more great leaders able to support others.

"But its purpose is to complement the existing important work of classroom-based experts."

Nansi Ellis, head of education policy and research for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said she had serious reservations about the way the new system would play out in schools.

"If teachers will be helping each other, that would be useful, there is always a need for specialist coaching and mentoring.

"But if it's a case of a teacher going into a school and asking staff there to copy them then that would not be helpful," she said.

"This role would also take teachers away from their job, and this needs to be very carefully managed by their school. The original school must not lose out."

A Department for Education spokesman said: "School-to-school and professional-to-professional approaches, like national leaders of education and Advanced Skills Teachers, are key to our approach to school improvement.

"SLEs will be excellent professionals in leadership positions below the headteacher."

In its consultation document, the National College said: "This is intended to recognise the significant contribution that all leaders within a school can provide in leadership development and improvement of standards within the system.

"This model provides an exciting future for a school-led improvement system which recognises and engages all types of school leaders to drive forward school improvement and ensure the best possible outcomes for children."

APPLICATION CRITERIA

Who fits the bill

- Outstanding practitioners, with at least two years' experience in a specialist area.

- Those with a successful track record of working effectively in their own school andor across a group of schools, or working with a range of staff within a single school.

- Those with a commitment to outreach work, and the capacity to undertake such work.

- Those who can provide evidence of coaching colleagues successfully.

- Those whose applications will be supported by their headteacher and chair of governors, and can be released from their school for a mutually agreed period of time.

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