Educational leadership & learning

Archive for the ‘BEd’ Category

BEd: Balance in Education: Leadership & Management

                                 BALANCE in Education: BEd                                   

For the benefit of pupils, staff and the wider school community.

Find the balance point – put polarisation to BEd!

For me after years of being involved in education there is a frustration that too often debate becomes polarised between two extremes. It is often believed that you can either have A or B, or that only one of the two can be correct, whereas more often than not if you can create an ethos and systems which values and harnesses the positives of both it can be far more helpful and profitable for everyone within the school community.

Common examples of such polarised debate are:

  • Leadership or Management
  • Knowledge or Skills
  • Subject of Topic based
  • Which is more important: Formative or Summative assessment
  • Focus on: Core curriculum or Broad curriculum
  • Which is most important: Teaching or Learning
  • Traditional or Progressive
  • Mixed ability grouping or Setting
  • Individual learning or Group learning
  • Independence or interdependence
  • Support or challenge
  • Consistency or Autonomy
  • Specific interventions for individuals during class time or immersion within the full class experience

The list could go on.

To be clear I do not think having a debate over these ideas is not relevant or useful, of course it is. Asking questions and debating with others should only lead us to a greater critical understanding and ability to make informed judgements for the benefits of our children and staff.

However I think there needs to be a balance to our analysis so that we can gain the most positive and beneficial impacts from both sides of the debate.


Leadership or Management

I am well aware that others far more experienced, knowledgble and articulate than myself will have discussed this, however…

Having worked with a number of senior leaders, and networked with a far greater number, this is one of the most common balances which is debated. To be clear I have been fortunate that everyone I have worked with has had numerous positive aspects of L&M, but as with most people, they seem to a have a leaning towards one more than another.

One Headteacher I have worked with was very systems orientated, very focused on monitoring that things were been carried out as agreed and a large amount of time was spent on moderating and monitoring the practice of the teachers. The school systems were smooth, staff were involved in organisational matters and communication was generally very strong. However we were so busy organising and maintaining that we missed some important external signs and did not develop strategically as much as we should. There was also a sense were staff were not encouraged to think about the bigger picture or to think for themselves as much as they could – both of which would have benefitted both the pupils and themselves as professionals.

Another Headteacher I have worked for was very clear about their educational philosophy and had a real vision for where they wanted the school to go. They were inspirational and empowered staff to try out new ideas. However there were not clear and consistent systems in pace for pupils and therefore progress became haphazard and difficult to evaluate. Communication was also sometimes an issue for some staff and members of the community.

I think that there are major positives in both Leadership and Management skills and strengths. The only negative comes with the lack of balance, or indeed the apparent absence, of one of them. This is another reason for the value of have a team of senior leaders in a school, as the balance can come from a range of people – often playing to their innate strengths. Again I am fortunate that the two schools I am currently working at have achieved a successful balance within the teams.

I have also found my role as a deputy and assistant headteacher has been very different with the three headteachers I have been privileged to work with. For some I have had to be far more focused on vision, staff development and leading teaching & learning and the curriculum, and for others I have been more involved in the smooth running of the school, building the internal and external relationships and monitoring the practice of staff and achievement of pupils. These experiences have been hugely valuable for my development in trying to improve my skills and giving me greater experience of the balance of L&M.

It reminds me of discussion I have had with a Headteacher mentor about co-acting styles. Every school needs a team of leaders with a balance of: Perfectors, Harmonisers, Innovators and Achievers to be successful.

Visionary leadership can only be built on the foundations supplied by management. Without management you get chaos with amazing intentions, without leadership you get lack of direction and stagnation. So let’s stop polarising the extremes and see the value in both.

Find the balance point – put polarisation to BEd!


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