I’m just settling into my new job. Quite a few people knew that I was changing jobs, but not as many people as I might have ordinarily told. I’m one of those people that like to boast. To be fair, a lot of people do, especially as they progress in their career. 

I had something to boast about – after twelve years of teaching I’ve made it to deputy head. Except I’m not called ‘Deputy Head’, I’m an assistant head in a school that doesn’t have a deputy.

I won’t delve deeply into the reasons for not having deputies. Suffice to say that assistants get paid on a lower scale than deputies. I was so pleased to get the experience in this school that I took a pay-cut when I accepted the job.

But as if that wasn’t bad enough, We’re not called Senior Management or Leadership Team, we’re called Senior Leadership Group – SluGs!

I’m not moaning – as you’ll have read, I’ve been genuinely excited about the whole experience and am loving every minute, although I am absolutely exhausted.

Middle leaders

The unusual structure doesn’t only apply to the very top. The middle leaders fall into two categories – Leaders of Teaching and Leaders of Learning. The latter are also called Heads of House, the former line-manage subject leaders but in a mixture of subjects without the confines of faculty/curriculum groupings. For example, one Leader of Teaching line manages Art, Maths, Geography and English; another Languages, Citizenship, History and Science. Each person also has a whole-school responsibility, such as enterprise, Key Stage 4 intervention, differentiation, etc.

I think it’s useful for pupils, parents and even staff to see that the school is all about teaching and learning and that there are senior members of staff responsible for such things.

Vertical tutor groups

In fact, I think it’s good to look beyond the ordinary when structuring schools. Our school has 24 tutor groups, six in each of four houses. Each group has some students from each year. This means that families really get to know the tutor and Head of House (this can be a good or bad thing). It also means that it’s difficult to talk to one year at a time, for instance options talks or before mock exams.

We are reviewing this over the academic year, in particular the system of having Heads of House rather than Heads of Year.

I would be really interested to hear either how your school senior and middle leadership teams work or any opinions you have on vertical tutoring.