This is a blog that I have written as part of my NPQML course. The John Burnham opinion piece quoted is provided by the National College and about curriculum development through middle leadership.
From John Burnham’s opinion piece, I feel there are a number of implications for middle leaders, with the first and most important, being that we need to inspire the team we are working with. In this current educational climate, we have all been slightly ‘untethered’ so that we have the ability to roam a little more freely. It is in times such as these, that teams can be divided, aspirations forgotten and purposes lost. I think that my first job as a middle leader is to unite my team with a common goal and remind them about what we are working towards, without getting too distracted by the endless possibilities that such freedom brings.
Once we are all working from the same page, I feel that then is the time for the middle leader to adapt and innovate. As John Burnham states ‘In many ways middle leaders are pivotal to this debate because they are central to ensuring that the political and social aspirations for the curriculum are turned into consistently high-quality practice in schools’. What a frightening but exciting prospect that we are the people in control of keeping all of these things rubbing along! And this is alongside teaching a class and managing the day-to-day minutiae of our jobs… Is anyone else feeling a little David and Goliath at this point?! I feel that in my curriculum area of PE, I have a strong responsibility towards ensuring that all children receive quality PE lessons because of the current obesity problems this country is facing (a social aspiration). Luckily, I am in the fortunate position of having a forward-thinking team with very similar aspirations for the children we work with and together we are creating a vision that does juggle all of these political and social aspirations.
In regards to a middle leader’s subject knowledge, I think it is more important than ever to have a secure understanding of your subject and know about any changes in policies that may have occurred. I try and keep on top of new policies and developments through social media, such as Twitter, and then passing this on to the relevant parties in my school. I do not feel concerned about my own, or my direct teams, subject knowledge but, as always with PE, there are gaps in other colleagues’ knowledge. It is my responsibility as middle leader, to ensure that I pass my knowledge on and encourage professional development whenever possible. With PE being a ‘scary subject’, I think this is going to be my biggest challenge over the next year or so; I need to make staff believe that they can teach PE because they are intellectually equipped to do so.
While reading this opinion piece, it reminded me how much freedom we have to be creative and innovate. I am lucky in that I feel very passionately about my subject and I’m really inspired to encourage the next generation of children into life-long participation. Everywhere I look there seems to be another great idea and another fantastic initiative that I could implement in school and encourage others to join with. I feel like a magpie at times, being constantly distracted by the shiny titbits on offer. This is fine for gathering ideas but I must remember that too much change at once is counter-productive. I am going to keep these ideas in mind as my long-term goals but I’m going to keep my feet on the ground and get the basics right first – good quality teaching, resources and assessment to encourage further engagement from both staff and children. I am very excited to get started on this journey!