Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Reading By Six: Leadership Lessons

Reading By Six is a report produced by Ofsted which identifies how outsanding schools introduce reading through phonics successfully. The report was produced to 'challenge all schools emulate practices which are eminently transferable and which should be applied consistently and reliably everywhere.'

I particularly enjoyed reading the section on leadership. Here are some lessons that I must learn and introduce when I become a headteacher:

  • The first, most overt feature of headship in these schools is the determination that children will learn to read.
I cannot help but admire leaders who are incredible focused. Such headteachers know what they want, and are very clear about what they want their children and staff to achieve. I also like the implication that a focus on basics is what makes a massive difference to the children's learning.
  • They articulate the school's vision and its ambitions for children's reading.
I have written about the need for communicating clearly before. Clearly communicating the school's visions, values and ambitions is essential to the success of any initiative.
  • They invest in the best teachers and teaching assistants they can find and scrupulously train or retrain them to teach phonics.
  • They appoint the most suitable person to lead and manage the day-to-day teaching of phonics, reading and writing.
Playing to the strengths of your staff is a really positive way to boost morale and achieve results.
  • They exert instructional leadership through demonstration, monitoring and dialogue.
It seems important to not lose touch with classroom practice. In fact, you need to be seen to be 'fully involved' in the initiative.
  • They build cohesive teams with shared values and consistent practice.
  • They take responsibility for the achievements of the school and account for them to governors and parents.
  • They are obsessive about the quality of children's learning as well as the extent to which teaching engages and ethuses them.
Leading by example?
  • All the headteachers were highly visible as well as being uncompromising about the things that were important for their pupils.
  • The headteachers and senior staff of these outstanding schools expected teaching of the highest quality and were passionately involved in how well children were learning.
  • Consistency and attention to detail are the hallmarks of this leadership team and of the staff. Everyone in the school knows what she or he has to do to improve. Individual performance management targets are set to ensure that all the staff play their part in raising the achievement of named groups of children.
  • Headteachers readily acknowledged that much of the success of their schools was the result of the 'huge commitment from staff.'
Recognising and celebrating the achievements is crucial.
  • They all heavily invested in the training and continuing development of teachers and teaching assistants.
I believe in the importance of CPD, and this seems to have a massive impact on the successful teaching of phonics.

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