Free article: Improving teacher recruitment and retention: part 1 Free article: Get ready to win strategic school improvement funding Reputation management for schools Experience shared: Effective mentoring Tackling bullying in schools - part one Aggression at work: Managing yourself and others Managing difficult conversations The art of influence: Creating the best outcome Change management and conflict Managing anxiety at work Interpreting data for 2017 performance Free article: Know your strengths Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectation Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence Free article: HR and the successful school: A case study Free article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress Free article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review Free article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement Free article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement Free article: Transforming a failing school Free article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision Free article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing Free article: The latest developments in education - January 2016 Free article: Managing uncertainty Free article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique Free article: The latest developments in education - September 2016 Free article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection Free article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty Free article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders Free article: The governing body as a critical friend Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectations Free article: The exam post-mortem Free article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility Free article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model Free article: Effective leadership builds effective teams Free article: Baseline assessment and SEND Free article: Deconstructing the link between SEND and poverty Free article: Making performance management count in school improvement Free article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust Free article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation Free article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser? Free article: Headteachers’ appraisal Free article: Making CPD work harder Free article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard Free article: The government's Prevent guidance Free article: Improving provision for the most able Free article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare Free article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools? Free article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment Free article: Actively promoting fundamental British values Free article: Raising boys’ achievement Free article: National standards of excellence for headteachers Free article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation Free article: CPD: Less measurement and more development Free article: Challenging 
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Free article: HR and the successful school: A case study

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Free article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress

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Free article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review

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Free article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement

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Free article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement

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Free article: Transforming a failing school

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Free article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision

Tony Powell explains how inspectors gather evidence and make judgements on the quality of alternative and specially resourced provision.

Free article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing

With concerns about mental health rising, what can schools do to help their pupils? Suzanne O’Connell outlines the advice available from the National Children’s Bureau and how it might be…

Free article: The latest developments in education - January 2016

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Free article: Managing uncertainty

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Free article: The latest developments in education - September 2016

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Free article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection

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Free article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty

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Free article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders

Adrian Kneeshaw looks at how leadership is important to the success of the school, and how to lead effectively.

Free article: The governing body as a critical friend

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Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectations

Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectations in their schools.

Free article: The exam post-mortem

Matt Bromley considers how schools can learn from exam performance data and build this into school improvement.

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Free article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model

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Free article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation

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Free article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard

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Free article: The government's Prevent guidance

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Free article: Improving provision for the most able

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Free article: Actively promoting fundamental British values

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the most able

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Free article: National standards of excellence for headteachers

Published: Thursday, 16 April 2015

Tony Powell looks at the revised national standards for headteachers and how they should be used by schools.

Summary

  • National standards for headteachers were published in November 2004 and changes were consulted on in January 2015.
  • The standards are intended for governing bodies, headteachers and aspiring headteachers.
  • The standards reflect the changes that have taken place in the role of the headteacher.
  • The national standards for headteachers are not compulsory but it is likely the DfE would expect schools to have regard for them and use them as best practice.
  • There are four different domains in the standards:
    1. Qualities and knowledge
    2. Pupils and staff
    3. Systems and process
    4. The self-improving school system.

The National standards for headteachers were first published in November 2004. They were reissued in January 2015.

There are many areas of commonality in the two documents, for example in the insistence that the headteacher’s role needs to be considered as a whole. However, it is more accurate to see the new standards as a complete rewrite rather than a revision. The first point to note is the insertion of a reference to excellence in the title, which is used throughout the document.

The standards have been rewritten to reflect the many changes that have taken place in the role of the headteacher over the last 10 years, for example through the introduction of academies and free schools and the executive headteacher.

Status of the standards

Unlike the teachers’ standards, these are not compulsory. However, since this is DfE guidance schools would be expected to have regard for them and it would be considered to be good practice for schools to use them. The standards are in fact presented as ‘guidance to underpin best practice’.

The guidance also states that these standards for headteachers are built upon the foundation of the teachers’ standards, including the personal and professional code of conduct. This takes for granted that all headteachers will meet the teachers’ standards.

The standards are not intended to be used as a checklist or to be broken down into gradations within each domain and the characteristics. The standards should instead be used in a holistic way. Very importantly, failure to meet one of the characteristics should not be used as the basis for capability.

What are the standards?

The standards are organised into a preamble, which describes the modern role of the headteacher, and four domains. The preamble states that the role of the headteacher is as follows:

‘Headteachers occupy an influential position in society and shape the teaching profession. They are lead professionals and significant role models within the communities they serve. The values and ambitions of headteachers determine the achievements of schools. They are accountable for the education of current and future generations of children. Their leadership has a decisive impact on the quality of teaching and pupils’ achievements in the nation’s classrooms. Headteachers lead by example the professional conduct and practice of teachers in a way that minimises unnecessary teacher workload and leaves room for high-quality continuous professional development for staff. They secure a climate for the exemplary behaviour of pupils. They set standards and expectations for high academic standards within and beyond their own schools, recognising differences and respecting cultural diversity within contemporary Britain. Headteachers, together with those responsible for governance, are guardians of the nation’s schools.’

There is nothing new in the description of the headteacher’s role in driving up educational standards. Where there is a greater focus than in the past is the importance of headteachers within society, with the references to ‘an influential position’, the ‘nation’s classrooms’ and particularly, ‘recognising differences and respecting cultural diversity within contemporary Britain.’

The four domains are:

  1. Qualities and knowledge
  2. Pupils and staff
  3. Systems and process
  4. The self-improving school system.

Within each of these domains there are six associated characteristics that are expected of headteachers.

Who are the standards for and how can they be used?

The standards are intended for governing bodies, headteachers and aspiring headteachers. Although the standards should not be used as a detailed tick list, each domain and characteristic can be used in a reflective and developmental way. They can be used in the following ways.

By headteachers to shape their own practice

  • Headteachers can check through the standards to shape their own practice and professional development, within and beyond the school.
  • The standards can be used by headteachers as a framework for such self-development, for them to consider what they have done already or need to do going forward to move closer to the aspirations set out in the standards.
  • Headteachers can use the standards to have a constructive conversation with their governors about the areas in which the headteacher feels they need support to develop.
  • Headteachers can use the standards to support their staff, and to identify the skills and knowledge they need in their leadership team.

By governors to inform the appraisal of headteachers

  • The standards can be used to inform the appraisal of headteachers by serving as a background document to assist governing boards.
  • The standards may be used to inform objective setting.
  • Governors can use the standards in appraisal to frame a broad overview of leadership in the specific context of the school. The standards can also serve as a starting point for the identification of specific objectives.
  • Governors should work with headteachers to understand what the school needs in order to progress. They should consider what needs to be done to support the headteacher to implement the school improvement plan and support colleagues.

By governors to support the recruitment and appointment of headteachers

  • The standards can be used to underpin and shape role descriptions and person specifications.
  • Governing boards can use the standards as a check to ensure that their selection process is sufficiently comprehensive, covering all of the key areas of headship set out in the standards.

By headteachers, governing boards and aspirant headteachers, to provide a framework for training middle and senior leaders aspiring to headship

  • The transition to headship involves mastering a broad range of competences. The standards are not an exclusive or complete list of these skills.
  • The standards can help to identify potential future leaders and be used to shape the developmental experiences offered to middle and senior leaders.
  • Aspirant headteachers can use the standards to evaluate their own progress towards being prepared for headship, and to identify the areas where they need more experience.

Further information:

  • National standards of excellence for headteachers: Departmental advice for headteachers, governing boards and aspiring headteachers, DfE January 2015, Ref. DFE-00019-2015): http://bit.ly/HeadteacherStandards 

Toolkit

Use the following item to help you to put the ideas in this article into practice:

About the author

Tony Powell is an experienced Additional Inspector and local authority adviser. He writes extensively on education management, but his main work is in supporting schools to develop systems for self-evaluation, school improvement and continuing professional development. Tony can be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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