Teaching is an incredibly rewarding profession to be in. You are shaping the future of the country, potentially developing the next generation of world leaders and sparking interest in the minds of young people. But there are also opportunities for career progression within the education sector, moving beyond being a teacher, to have more responsibility and achieve the higher paycheck that goes along with it. This guide will give you the lowdown on the opportunities available to teachers to progress into a higher management role within the education sector.
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One step up from classroom instruction is specialising in a subject. These roles are distinct from being a teacher and there are many different specialist routes that you could choose to take. Roles include literacy, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and trauma-informed leadership, amongst many others that are specific to your institution. Specialist teachers are not only responsible for their own teaching practices, but may also have responsibilities like evaluating curriculums, introducing new initiates and holding training exercises and meetings within your speciality. Specific subject specialists are particularly important in primary level teaching where each teacher is required to cover a broad spectrum of subjects in detail. In this situation, having a subject specialist ensures that the level of education and information for each subject is consistent and to a high level across the board, despite whether it is the main focus of the individual teacher or not.
Head of Department
This role sees education professionals take on responsibility for the teachers and the level of education within an entire teaching department, like English, mathematics or science. Head of departments tend to be the liaison between teaching staff, administration and management within the school. They facilitate meetings that cover curriculum, assessment and policies; provide their teachers with a support network; and help create a positive working environment where staff feel heard and appreciated. Sometimes these positions are combination roles, meaning the head of department actively teaches as well, but some institutions hire administrative individuals whose role is solely conducting the tasks of the head of the department. As a head of department, and for any other managerial role, you are required to have extensive knowledge and skills on innovative teaching methodology. A masters in education from Exeter University will give you an in depth understanding of educational processes and strategies that will set you up to succeed in such a role.
Key Stage Coordinator
Again, all institutions have their own levels of career progression and use different titles across the board; for example, key stage coordinator could also come under the same umbrella as head of year. The main difference between this level of management compared to department head is that these are not subject specific. Department heads are responsible for the staff learning and teaching in their specific subjects, whereas key stage coordinators or head of years are focused on learning across the board for the designated age range. Key stages tend to cover a wider age range, with KS1 including Years 1 and 2 (ages 5 to 7) all the way up to KS5 (years 12 and 13), college, or sixth form level students that are 16 to 18 years old. Key stage leaders report directly to the headteacher and other members of the senior leadership team, keeping them regularly informed of any developments within the group you are responsible for. Often, these roles also include some teaching responsibilities, but this is dependent on the school that you work in.
The senior leadership team (SLT) takes care of the day-to-day management of a school and can include the deputy head teachers and the headteacher as well as other administration staff members and governors. The members of this team are involved in managing and running the school and working towards meetings their specific targets and objectives. They monitor teaching and learning, focus on staff development and training, lead and prioritise school improvements and can also include areas such as safeguarding and special education needs (SEN). They set the direction of the school, implement strategies to improve outcomes and ensure that the values of the school are present in the everyday running of the school.
Responsible for updating the headteacher on daily developments and operations of the school, the deputy head supports the management and running of activities, strategies, and processes. This is the second most senior role within a school with major responsibilities that includes ensuring the teaching staff are performing adequately, monitoring inclusion and safety, and establishing aims and objectives across the teaching and support staff. Additionally, when the headteacher is not present, it is the deputy head that the rest of the faculty report too. Depending on the size of the institution, there may be more than one deputy or assistant head each with specific areas of the school to focus upon.
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The headteacher is at the top of the hierarchy when it comes to school education. They are the most senior teacher and are responsible for the smooth running of school activities and operations on a daily basis. Unlike other managerial roles within education, it is very rare that the headteacher also takes on active teaching duties. Instead, they motivate, manage and support all their staff and students. The overall academic achievements of staff and students is all on the shoulders of the headteacher. They are required to create an effective learning environment, provide guidance and expertise, but also keep on top of the business and administration side of the school. As this is the top role, it will take time, dedication and a passion for the education to reach this point, and if you enjoy the classroom experience, then this role may not be for you. But if you are organised, have key management skills and are able to motivate and manage individuals, being a headteacher would suit you.
There are many different routes to take to progress up the career ladder within the education sector. Now you know what is involved in each role, you can set yourself career progression goals and begin making steps to achieve them.