You might be ambitious. You may want a new challenge. Your headteacher might be encouraging you to make the move into senior leadership and it might seem like a logical next step. However, it still requires some serious thought.

For many teachers, moving into middle management is a natural and obvious step. Middle leadership offers new challenges and gives professionals the chance to widen the impact they can have. Suddenly, your influence extends beyond the confines of the 4 walls of your own classroom.

It is also natural that, in time, many middle leaders will feel the need to go higher still and have ambitions to move into senior leadership. So, how do you move into a SLT role successfully?

Well, perhaps the best bit of advice is to approach such a move with your eyes wide open.

The difference in scale

Although it is never good to be completely insular, when you are a classroom teacher, your classroom is your kingdom. It is what goes on here that you control and can impact on. This is where your responsibility lies. As a head of department, your kingdom grows – but it is still your subject and your particular area of expertise, and your team.

As a senior leader, your subject area and team is no longer what it is all about. You are now forced to look at things on a much bigger scale. You see the bigger picture and everything has to be considered in terms of the whole school.

 

The importance of taking on whole-school responsibility

Any middle leader wanting to move into senior leadership will have to prove that they have impact at a whole-school level. This is why it is important to be involved in and, ideally, to lead projects that have a whole-school focus to prepare you for what is in store for you at senior leadership level.

Choose a role and school that suits you

Key to being successful in a new senior leadership position is choosing a role that is well suited to your particular skills and experience. Similarly, if the role is in a new school, ideally this should be in a setting that is familiar to you.

Of course, many of the skills that you will use day-to-day in a senior leadership role are transferable, and all SLT roles will involve you being required to do things that you have not done previously. However, trying to move too far away of your own areas of experience is best avoided.

Never stop learning and developing

In teaching, whatever level you are at, the moment you begin to stand still and believe that you know everything will be the moment your own performance starts to drop. There is never any time to rest on your laurels as a senior leader. All newly-appointed senior leaders should be supported, coached and mentored. However, you will also be expected to hit the ground running too.

You always need to keep developing and reflecting on your practice in order to maintain standards and continue to improve as a senior leader.

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