New to subject leadership? Here’s how I tackled it

Vikkey Chaffe
Vikkey Chaffe
I found leading on a subject to be a really rewarding way of getting into management, but it can also be quite daunting. Knowing how to progress your subject for the benefit of both your students and school can be a real challenge. Here's an overview of some of the things I tried, which may work for you.

Where to start?

The first thing I did was to find out the exact requirements for the subject, and the long term plan for all years. Once you are familiar with your subject, its purpose in the school curriculum and why it has been created this way, you can focus on the confidence of your teachers. I created a subject audit and asked all teachers and TAs to complete it for my subject to help me get an understanding of how confident they were teaching the curriculum. It also helps you to understand their confidence about progression in their class and what they need from you to improve. It’s also important to look at your assessment data to see if there are any obvious gaps in students’ learning. This gave me a really good understanding of where to focus efforts.

What next? Create a plan

In my experience, the best action plans have three to five points with an achievable target, a reasonable path and where feasible, any budget implications. It is also good practice to make reference to how these actions are inclusive, or indicate what provisions you have put in place to ensure they are inclusive. For example, if one of your actions in Geography is to have more field trips, you will need to make sure that all of your locations are accessible to all, both in terms of cost and physicality.

Include all stakeholders

Once my had my plan, I felt it was important to run it past all stakeholders. You could ask your SLT for a staff meeting, and use this as an opportunity to go through your plan, collate their feedback and make amendments as required. Remember, several heads are better than one and other members of staff might pick up on things you may have missed. Another tactic I used was to also hold a parent meeting, to understand what they believed their child(ren) should be achieving in the subject. As a result, encouraging interest at this stage also meant I found students were more likely to do work at home. 

Once you have a solid starting point and a clear vision of where you want your subject to go, you can plan in other tactics to measure your progress. For example, I scheduled in ‘book looks’, used staff questionnaires to keep an open dialogue and initiated a CPD program – but there are lots of other things you can do. The important thing is to make sure you can reach the best possible outcomes in your subject. 

Support from The Key: Checklist for Subject Leaders

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