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So what does being an Assistant Headteacher for Teaching and Learning actually mean?

2013-11-04 15.07.58

James T. Kirk: I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. I only know what I CAN do.

I’ve been an Assistant Headteacher and part of the school’s teaching and learning team for 45 working days now.  I remember a few comments on being appointed back in May along the lines of ‘isn’t everyone responsible for teaching and learning, blah blah…’  Of course, that’s a no brainer as leadership extends right into the classroom (indeed, successful leadership’s roots are firmly in the classroom).  In addition, a few people have asked me what this job actually means. This will be useful for those who may be considering the move.  You can read the first and second posts about the SLT adventure if you like.  I don’t pretend to be any sort of SLT expert by any means, even when I’m growing half a beard for Movember.  Those reading this who are already in SLT may wish to reach out if we share common areas.

I’m very lucky to be working in a school that places such a high value on developing teaching and learning.  Because of this I work as part of a three person team with John, a Deputy Head, and Mark, a fellow Assistant Head.  Between us, we are charged with developing teaching and learning.

For my own part, my ‘official’ responsibilities are as follows.  I say ‘officially’ as there are a bazillion other things to do, as well as the things that need doing but aren’t necessarily being done or within any single person’s remit. It’s the balance between doing things right and doing the right things.  I list these in no particular order:

  • Line management of three subject areas (Science, Art and Life Skills).
  • Raising the achievement of Pupil Premium children.
  • Marking, feedback and homework.
  • CPD – this is split between the three of us and we work together to put together the CPD programme.  My particular responsibility includes the Learning Partnerships initiative, which I aim to turn into a curriculum hackers group.  CPD to me is essential and the only way in which to get staff to become change agents. It’s a balance between providing inspiration and getting on with the nuts and bolts of running the school.

Then there are the extras, so each lunchtime I’m on duty. There’s an afterschool SLT meeting on a Monday, a Thursday SLT briefing and a few other things……….

I’m still figuring out the lay of the land at the moment.  As mentioned previously, the main challenge is prioritisation and making time to do the right things as well as dealing with events as they happen. Also, it’s a daily challenge to rationalise beliefs and values with accountability. Although I’m lucky to be working within a school without an ‘do it for Ofsted’ culture, a proportion of what I do is linked to the school’s last Ofsted report. Unofficially, I also want to help develop the role technology plays in enhancing and transforming learning and, as I’m addicted to getting children outside the classroom, get an Iceland trip or two going…. 

I wonder how this compares to your experiences?  Is there anything we can work together on?


  1. I'm applying for an Assistant Headteacher (T&L) role at my school. Internal candidates only. I came across this blog through a bit of Googling. Any tips for interview?


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