November 2013

The know zone

  • Pensions unpicked
    Thought about retirement yet? However far off it may be, start looking now at your options, says David Binnie. There may be unforeseen complications but also opportunities. More
  • Squeezed middle
    Schools may need to become lean and mean in order to adapt to new funding levels, says Sam Ellis, or they may find themselves facing a budget crisis. More
  • Raising the stakes
    Ofsted judgements look likely to be tougher in key areas under the revised guidance introduced in September, says Jan Webber. And the bar is being set higher for achieving ‘good’. More
  • Leading education
    ASCL exists to reflect and promote the views of its members, which is why ASCL Council is so important. ASCL Council is made up of 148 elected representatives and is the association’s policy-making body, meeting four times a year. Council members represent ASCL at meetings with government officials and other organisations. It is from Council that national officers, including the president, are elected. In each edition of Leader this year, we will spotlight the work of a particular committee of Council. This month, it is the turn of the Education Committee. More
  • Council focus
    What does it mean to be a Council rep? More
  • ASCL PD events
    New to the leadership team, Leadership for Outstanding Performance, and Homerun for Headship More
  • First term almost over
    ASCL Professional Development (PD) offers high-quality, relevant, up-to-date and competitively priced courses. Our training is delivered by a team of skilled trainers and consultants, almost all of whom have been headteachers or senior school leaders. More
  • How do you say?
    Focus on... 1,000-words challenge More
  • Adding value
    Time to protect your pension pot? More
  • Food for thought
    The government plans to spend £600 million on free school meals (FSM) for every child in a state-funded infant school and disadvantaged students in further education. Is this a good idea? Is this money well spent or should it be spent elsewhere? Here ASCL members share their views. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    The antidote to common leadership conundrums... More
  • Choice language?
    Would you like IT with your G&T? Or, like Eric Hester, are you bemused by the proliferation of acronyms? More
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ASCL Professional Development (PD) offers high-quality, relevant, up-to-date and competitively priced courses. Our training is delivered by a team of skilled trainers and consultants, almost all of whom have been headteachers or senior school leaders.

First term almost over

The autumn term is quickly coming to an end and you will be finishing your first few weeks as a member of the senior leadership team (SLT). Being new to any team can be a daunting experience and no doubt you will have faced some challenges during the past few weeks and been challenged on a range of issues. You may have tackled some difficult conversations with colleagues, been challenged at governors’ meetings over examination results or had immediate problems to solve on top of identifying and managing the expectations of all around you.

If you have arrived in your new leadership post as an external appointment then you will have had to get to grips with the running of the school or college and its values and culture that, although possibly covered in an induction programme, will not have been quite the same as the reality of being involved on a day-to-day basis. You will have also, in a very short space of time, had to build relationships with staff across the school or college as well as with parents and other stakeholders. This relationship building is key to being successful in your new role and it is important in establishing and building your own credibility with those with whom you work.

Being promoted from within your own school or college often brings its own particular challenges, not least in how you may be perceived by your colleagues who once viewed you as ‘one of them’. They may be experiencing difficulty in seeing you make the transition from team member to a more senior role and may be taking time to adjust to you in your new role. On a personal level, this may also be difficult for you to deal with and will often require from you a great deal of diplomacy and tact when dealing with colleagues from a different perspective. Mastering this transition phase will be important when establishing yourself in your new role.

Support from your other SLT colleagues is crucial in ensuring that your transition into your new role is as smooth as possible. This support can be as simple as making sure that lines of communication are clear and open so that consistent and meaningful dialogue can occur. Also remember that everyone on the SLT will have been in your position at some stage of their career so they should be a good source of advice and guidance.

It is also useful to take the time to reflect upon and keep at the forefront of your thoughts your important role in helping to lead professional learning across your school or college. Promote and focus upon a learning culture for all, for both staff and students, as this will also help you not only to become an even more reflective practitioner but also to be an effective leader, as Robinson, Hohepa and Lloyd (2009) commented:

“[The] more leaders focus their influence, their learning, and their relationships with teachers on the core business of teaching and learning, the greater is their influence and impact in terms of improved student outcomes.” (Robinson et al., 2009: 28)

Read more

Robinson, V, Hohepa, M & Lloyd, D, 2009, School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying what works and why: Best evidence synthesis, Wellington, NZ, New Zealand, Ministry of Education

Top tips for ‘finding your feet’ in your new SLT role:

  • Get a feel for the values and culture of the school/college.
  • Ask lots of questions in order to gather a lot of relevant information.
  • Don’t take on too much, too early; grow into your role.
  • Take a fresh look at things as a critical friend.