Why you are never ‘too young’ to be promoted

Limited classroom experience shouldn't prevent a newer teacher from being given responsibility, argues Adam Riches

Adam Riches

teaching promotion

The pathway to getting more responsibilities in a school can, at times, be a very frustrating one for aspirational young teachers: senior leadership teams need to start realising that spending years in the classroom, or more accurately in teaching, doesn’t always mean someone is a better fit for a responsibility.

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Less experienced teachers can make a huge impact when given responsibility, so here are the four things we need to address to make sure they get the opportunities they deserve (while not suggesting those who have taught longer should be overlooked, either). 

1. Nurture raw talent

We arguably have better-informed new teachers than ever before thanks to the shift in the profession towards a more research-focused pedagogy. These teachers enter the world of teaching, full of ideas and the most up-to-date knowledge – this needs to be recognised. 

How can we best nurture this knowledge and ensure it benefits all teachers in a school? So often, we see teachers with a lot of experience, who have taught in the same way for decades, being given positions of responsibility simply because of their years of service. 

We need to nurture ambitious young teachers so they can share the phenomenal amount of knowledge they have to give. 

2. Move away from fixed ideas of years of service 

In some more traditional school structures, teachers have to wait five years to be in with a chance of a responsibility and, quite often, they leave before that point, frustrated at the lack of progress.

Knowing that no matter how many years you have been teaching you are still in with a chance of getting the post will, I am sure, be motivation enough for many to stay.

3. Take advantage of their willingness to learn

Schools need to realise that, with the right guidance and training, young teachers can be ripe for responsibility quite quickly. Newly qualified teacher (NQT) programmes should lead into recently qualified teacher (RQT) programmes and these, in turn, can feed into middle leadership programmes. 

4. Assess your current leadership candidates

Take a look at those you have on leadership training programmes and those you have earmarked as future leaders. How many less experienced teachers are on your radar?  

You need to be open-minded about what teachers can do and their potential for stepping up. Age should not come into it and years in the classroom should not either. 

Are those on your list more qualified for a responsibility than a teacher who has been teaching for four or five years? 

Adam Riches is a senior leader for teaching and learning, head of English and specialist leader in education

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