Developing middle leaders in schools

Middle leaders are usually a diverse group, with widely varying professional and management roles: leading teaching and learning, acting as mentors and coaches to colleagues, working with students, parents and often, the wider community. They help shape innovation and lead change in schools, particularly change directed at raising student achievement. Schools should identify and cultivate this valuable resource in order to maximise this leadership potential to improve and sustain a quality-learning environment.

Twenty-first century schooling requires leadership that is widely distributed in their schools. Research shows a positive relationship between organisational change in a school, improved learning outcomes for students, and the involvement of teachers as leaders, in the school.

It is important that Headmasters should delegate and share responsibilities and take a step back at times, which creates opportunities and the necessary space for staff to take on middle and senior leadership roles. Headmasters can use these opportunities strategically to make appointments that will enable the school to respond to changing needs and priorities. Leadership positions usually have a specific area of accountability. The purpose of middle leaders is to improve outcomes for all students; these outcomes should embrace their education, welfare, and personal development.

Depending on the context, the responsibilities of middle leaders may include:

  • Leading pedagogical change, which involves acting as a model for effective pedagogical practice within departments, leading teaching and learning and support structures to enable good teaching and learning;
  • Ensuring that teaching staff understand their role in implementing the school’s vision and policies and that they can influence these;
  • Providing leadership that is responsive to student identity and school improvement;
  • Mentoring and coaching other leaders in phases of transition/promotion at different points throughout their teaching careers;
  • Leading and participating in professional development so that it becomes accepted practice in the school;
  • Building professional, trusting relationships;
  • Resolving conflicts;
  • Promoting innovation and ensuring that ICT assists, supports, and enhances student learning.
Our training intervention seeks to engage middle leaders in leadership roles that create change through creative and innovative approaches within the whole school environment. Developing skills, implementing new strategies and support processes and taking accountability as leaders, underpin the training for this session.

Key areas that will be covered through training delivery and activity-based sessions include:
  • Self-assessment and Emotional Competence
  • Leadership responsibilities – alternating between leader and follower in a given context
  • Leadership vision of the department and school
  • Leadership qualities and styles
  • Winning the team over – getting others to lead from within their own classrooms
  • Creative problem-solving
  • Modeling authenticity and creativity as a leader
  • Working with other HoDs
  • Leading school change from the middle
  • Change linked to better performance
Participants will engage in group and independent activities and are encouraged to reflect on their own practice as leaders of their departments. This is a practical session of implementing key strategies and procedures to apply to their departments.