I met a teacher today who has been applying for Principal teacher jobs without success.
One of the problems is that many jobs ask for leadership experience – but how do you get that experience if you’re not in a leadership position?
Many people manage to gain such experience by being in the right-place-at-the-right-time – i.e. they are lucky enough to get formal acting-up experience due to circumstances in their own school. We’ve tried to address this at senior management level by opening out all such opportunities to external candidates but we can’t take it below that level due to the impact it would have on class teaching.
However, we’ve had a number of conversations recently which have stressed that ‘leadership’ is not something that is the sole preserve of people in ‘leadership’ positions. The question is whether or not we could come up with some kind of scheme for people who aspire to leadership positions in schools by linking a school-wide responsibility, which they might have volunteered for, with a formal leadership network?
For example, I might be leading a group on formative assessment in my school. By joining the network of “Leaders of Learning”, who lead learning and teaching groups in their own school, cluster or even authority wide, I have a recognised leadership position within the authority. The network would meet regularly, have links to other groups and authority wide initiatives.
We could also provide specific training opportunities for the network which would link with the possibility of formal qualifications.
When applying for a promoted position in the authority I would have the formal recognition that I have held a leadership position – thereby addressing one of the dificulties so many people face by not being in the right-place-at-the-right-time.
I much prefer this kind of system to a fast tracking scheme – as the police use – as it’s inclusive and links nicely with our priority to share leadership and develop learning and teaching.
My only concern might be that some people might see this idea as getting people to take on leadership responsibilities on the cheap – is this exploitation?