Please Sir, I want some more?

8th April 2005 at 01:00
What do you want out of teaching? If you want to add another dollop to your already full plate, help yourself to Phil Revell's three courses to promotion

It all used to be so simple. You became a teacher, you taught. Primary teachers might eventually rise to the dizzy heights of headship - but most didn't. Secondary teachers moved on to be heads of departments or heads of year. Some carried on upwards into the head's office - but most didn't.

Teachers didn't think about their careers; they didn't see themselves as managers or as leaders - just as teachers. But fast forward to 2005 and the situation has changed beyond all recognition. There is a bewildering range of things a teacher can end up doing. They now need to give a little more thought to the route through this maze; otherwise they could end up taking a wrong turn.

"I wanted to be a head of year," said one newly qualified teacher in a Buckinghamshire secondary school, "but I've just found out that there are going to be no more promoted posts for that kind of pastoral work. I'm not sure where that leaves me."

Other teachers have found themselves in a similar fix, and not just NQTs.

The potential difficulties have arisen because of proposals to restrict promoted posts to roles that are centred on teaching and learning.

Under the old rules teachers could be given additional pay for organising the cover list or liaising with primary schools. Primary teachers were less likely to benefit from this kind of largesse because promoted posts are like hen's teeth in most primaries, and already reserved for key leadership roles.

In the secondary school where I used to teach, there were at least half a dozen people in senior jobs that had little to do with the curriculum.

Including me. One of my promoted points was given because I was responsible for the school's work experience programme. The intention is that support staff should now handle these kind of administrative jobs; the paraprofessionals will release teachers to do what they do best - teaching.

The second trend people need to be aware of is the move to "flat" management structures, where a senior team contains individuals with a range of responsibilities. This produced faculties in secondary schools and key stage team leaders in primaries.

At first glance these new structures seem to mean that there will be fewer senior jobs available. But don't panic, because the range of things that need leading and managing shows no sign of diminishing. The new career paths seem to offer three routes up the job ladder.

* Route 1 is the traditional route to the head's office. For this, people will need to demonstrate leadership capability and experience of managing other people. In a secondary that means running a large department or faculty, and in a primary it means taking control of and co-ordinating a key curriculum area. Teachers who hanker after headship need to extend their range and broaden their experience. That means additional qualifications and courses - perhaps the National College for School Leadership's, Leading from the Middle programme, or a Masters degree.

* Route 2 is the classroom route. In the past, if teachers wanted to earn more money they had to leave the classroom behind. Today, that is no longer the case. Advanced skills teachers can earn up to pound;47,000 a year and there are proposals for a new grade of "excellent" teacher. Both focus on classroom skills, with the AST role involving some work with other schools to spread good practice. Aspiring advanced skills teachers need to be outstanding classroom practitioners, but also need to work in a school that is prepared to create the post. Some big secondaries have a dozen advanced skills teachers; others have yet to appoint their first.

* Route 3 is the specialist route. The clearest example is the special needs co-ordinator role. Sencos don't just have a teaching role; it's also their job to liaise with parents, children's services and school support staff to keep track of the special needs pupils they are responsible for.

Other specialist roles take people out of the classroom and sometimes out of the profession. There's the director of sport, where teaching PE is only part of the job description.

Whatever route people take, the key thing is to keep a simple question in mind. "What do I do next?" Knowing the answer to that can give you some clues as to what you need to do now in order to prepare for that next step up the ladder.

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