This week we look at a recent report which showed that more and more teaching professionals are aspiring to headship. Also, you have heard of the terrible twos, but never underestimate the troublesome tweenagers! CPD Week considers the difficulties of transition.

A key responsibility of any school, and in particular CPD coordinators, is to respectfully help members of staff to work towards achieving their ambitions. With recent news of incredibly healthy headship ambitions from the National College of School Leadership, how might we ensure that all these aspiring heads are supported in the best possible way? This issue of CPD Week takes a look at the latest NCSL research and offers suggestions for helping teachers to keep their eyes on that headship prize. We also feature the ‘tweenager’, and offer helpful ideas for staff development on this age and stage.

Quote of the Week
“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.” Mikhail Baryshnikov

Practical Tips

Harnessing ambition

How good is your school at identifying and harnessing the ambition of its staff? Perhaps a better question is, how would your school’s staff members describe the extent to which their ambitions are respected? It’s a potentially fragile issue in many schools and can affect the morale and motivation of teachers at all stages of their careers.

One very interesting dimension of ambition in the world of teaching is the apparent mismatch between the numbers of those who see headship as a distinct possibility in their careers and those who actually go on to achieve this goal. Naturally there may be many reasons why, as a teacher’s career progresses, initial ambitions may be refined and adapted, but are schools as much as they can to harness ambition?

According to the latest research from the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) nearly a third of teachers want to become headteachers, and one in twelve expects to do so within the next three years. Interestingly, this seems to be at odds with the reality of headship recruitment at present, with some schools struggling to get strong enough fields of candidates to even go ahead with the interview stage. This research from the NCSL also shows that ambitions within the young 30-44 age range are running high, with 67,000 respondents wanting to be heads and two thirds of those wanting to get there at the earliest opportunity. The under 30s are hungry for the job too, with 37% wanting to go for it!

This strong ambition is seemingly unique to teaching. Other professions experience far lower levels of people wanting to reach the top job in the field. The positive feature about teachers’ ambitions for headship is that they are increasing.

Naturally headship is not for everyone, and a healthy profession needs excellent practitioners at every level, but what can CPD coordinators do to ensure that those with aspirations to progress through the ranks can actually do so? These ideas will help:

The five most appealing opportunities of headship are:

  • shaping a school
  • doing something bigger
  • influencing children’s lives
  • natural career extension
  • working with the wider community.

In what way can teachers experience these aspects in your school on their way to headship? Do those in your school who aspire to headship build these (or similar) activities into their development plans?

According to the NCSL research, the role of headteacher is seen positively by most teachers. How does this compare with the way in which the role is viewed in your school? Do you need to do some positive promotion of the role?

Key attitudes towards the role of headteacher, according to the NCSL research, include:

  • It gives you the opportunity to influence children’s lives
  • you can develop your staff and leadership team
  • headteachers can leave behind a legacy that goes beyond their school
  • it’s possible to become a head more quickly now than it used to be
  • it’s a great job.

Are aspiring heads in your school actively building these features into their work and their development plans? For example, teachers at all levels can influence children, and middle and senior leaders can work at developing their team members. Keeping in mind the role of head while preparing for progression can be excellent groundwork.

Teachers seem to be more inspired by special school and primary heads than by secondary heads, according to the NCSL research. Regardless of the type of school you work in, can the head, the senior leadership team and governors do more to inspire suitable staff members to consider headship? For example, job shadowing, appropriate delegation, access to CPD, highlighting resources of interest (see below)?

Find out more

You can access the NCSL ICM Headship Index free of charge by clicking here

Inspirational videos from the New Heads Conference 2007 for interested staff members to view can be downloaded by clicking here

NCSL programmes for aspiring heads can be found by clicking here.

Issues and Information

Tweenagers at sea

Much has been debated this week about the plight of the so-called ‘tweenager’ – those children aged between 8 and 13 who struggle to make the transition from child to teen and who are at risk of ‘going off the rails’. As this age group clearly straddles both primary and secondary, a united response from both phases is likely to bring about the greatest positive benefit. According to the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), the culture in secondary schools (their ‘less personal nature’ and the reduction of parental involvement) may be contributing to the issues faced by young people at this key transition. The DCSF believes that a greater focus needs to be given to what pupils experience at this time.

If the Tweenager issue is prevalent in your school, whether primary or secondary, try these resources to boost staff development:

  • Click here for an article on pupil transition which focuses on the child’s point of view.
  • The Standards site carries information for teachers new to year 6 and NQTs which can be seen by clicking here
  • *Read about the Transfer and Transition Conference 2008, by  clicking here
  • Try this transition enrichment activity by clicking here
  • Teachers TV has useful videos on supporting young people at this age and stage which can be viewed by clicking here

Young Minds carries information and advice for those supporting young people to ensure they develop and maintain positive mental health. Click here to find out more

This e-bulletin issue was first published in November 2007

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes qualified as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and is the author of several books specialising in the areas of professional development and teacher well-being.