We all know that teaching and learning should be at the heart of our work. So how do secondary leaders make sure that every child has an experience that promotes the best possible learning outcomes across the curriculum, regardless of the teacher they have?
The answer is not easy but part of the solution surely lies in developing a shared understanding of the most appropriate peda- gogical approach for a school community. Of course, some will argue that teachers should be free to develop their own. After all, most have their preferred default methods which probably reflect how they were taught themselves, their initial training and their preferred learning style. The argument goes that by allowing teachers the professional freedom to plan and deliver lessons their own way, the quality of teaching and learning will be higher.
The trouble is that the quality of planning and resourcing that one teacher can bring to all their classes is a limiting factor. Simply, the task is unmanageable. There is too much planning and preparation to create very good lessons consistently. This approach also ignores that there may be ways to teach particular skills or knowledge sets that are not reflected in the teacher's repertoire or experience.
In these circumstances, there are two possible outcomes: either teachers feel overworked, become disenchanted and leave the profession, or they start to cut corners in the name of self-preservation.
On balance, it makes much more sense for teachers to work together collaboratively to produce high-quality schemes of work for everyone to follow. Not only does this bring obvious benefits in terms of sharing the workload, it means the quality of teaching and learning will be based on lessons that are planned around a shared view of the best way to teach something.
Not only that, pupils will feel more secure as they move between subjects and lessons because there is a more consistent approach to the learning experience and a shared set of expectations across curriculum areas. They are able to understand their place in the way lessons are organised and conducted, which in itself makes them more effective learners.
Teachers are not superhuman. As leaders, we should do all we can to make their job as manageable as possible, recognising time constraints and practical classroom issues. But at the same time we need to make sure that what we create gives us the best chance to meet the needs of all our students. A shared approach to pedagogy must surely be a key part of the solution.
Andy Buck, Headteacher of the Eastbrook-Jo Richardson partnership in Barking and Dagenham. His book, `Making school work: a practical approach to secondary school leadership', is published by Greenwich Exchange.