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Should I take the step into an SLT role? 8 helpful points to think about...

  • Publish Date: Posted over 2 years ago
  • Author: Leah Baker

​Every teacher’s experience is going to be different and how they made their way into the leadership world. It’s not always easy, but don’t let this put you off.

Some got there through chance and others had a strict plan and strategy. We hope by the end of this read, you have enough advice or ideas, so you feel confident to make your way up, or at least think about the possibility.

Extra responsibility is a must to make it to a Head of Department role and you will need to move up the ladder in steps before you become SLT.

Evidence is important. So, to make your way into SLT, you will need a toe or two already on the ladder to show your impact.

Start off small

Begin by taking that extra responsibility to get used to the added workload. Why not enquire about becoming a lead in a faculty, something smaller with not too many people to manage. This evidence will help you progress to SLT in the future.

Think big!

If you are already in this position, move to a pastoral role to gain experience across whole school leadership to add those skills to your CV.

If you make it into the Senior Leadership team…

Your responsibilities will change but doesn’t mean you have to!

Remember you will not have the same priorities as you did as a classroom teacher and you may no longer have a full teaching timetable to cover your new tasks, however, do not forget that that once, you were in their shoes.

Advise and help as much as you can. Think about how you manage your responsibility and the way you communicate to others. It is so important you receive positive feedback and how you are having a positive impact in this role.

The most important thing in any school is the pupils experience. This will happen with happy and impactful teachers. Ensure you are encouraging and not adding extra stress to those teachers.

What happens to your specialist subject?

If you teach a specialist subject, we are sure you love it. I mean, you trained in that yourself and made the decision to provide that subject knowledge to others. Be prepared though, that once you step into that SLT position or apply to be a senior leader, there is a high chance that you will no longer teach your subject.

If your main love is teaching, it may not be for you to become SLT, however, this a big jump on the career ladder (not just financially) and you will still have an impact in other ways. Remember you are there not just for the children, but also the staff, which is very rewarding.

You will no longer have a classroom of your own and will need to fit in the small amount of time that you are required to teach.

Do not lose your ability or skill though, and don’t feel you need to make less effort. During those lessons, ensure they are the best. Not everyone will agree, but a Senior Leader in a school needs to be a great teacher and positive role model in their teachings for their peers around them.

You may feel you’ve become rusty the higher you become as an SLT, but you’ve done it before and was an NQT once.

How do I keep up?

Your workload is going to be heavy. One of the main things you will learn is the skill to become available. You need to be visible and approachable. Ensure you are showing your presence throughout the school and don’t shy away during breaks with admin tasks. Build relationships with staff and pupils and encourage behaviour rules and key messages.

The pupils are still your priority and ensure they feel comfortable with you and know who you are. Show them you are interested in them by taking part in extra-curricular activities. You are the person staff will turn to in times of crisis. Show your support to students and staff and offer advice to all with encouraging direction.

Don’t let it get to your head!

Just because you have more responsibility now, remember you are still going to be learning. Keep up to date with everything that is going on in the Education world. Read blogs, read articles, books, the news.

Ensure your decision making isn’t just coming from you. Make collaborative decisions and listen to opinions of those around you. This will also save time and take some weight off your shoulders, so look at this as a positive.

There is going to be a lot more important decisions made such as legislation, law and governance ( These rules should not be made lightly and solely by your opinion.

How can I make my presence a positive one?

I am sure you can remember what it was like being an NQT or teacher. When a member of the SLT or HOD is around, the pressure feels that bit higher. But it shouldn’t be like that. And when it is your time to transition, make sure others do not find your presence uncomfortable.

Especially when it comes to lesson observations. Make this a positive experience.

This is so important. Your lesson observations should be an encouraging activity, try and make sure it comes across this way and not a time to ‘pass judgment’. Give your teachers time to reflect, have open discussions about the lessons and let them observe you. Encourage tips you’ve picked up from other teachers and NQT’s and how this has helped develop your thinking.

Interested? Top tips to consider:

  1. Look at your skills

It’s always worth comparing your skills and experience to SLT job descriptions. You can download JD’s online and start looking to see what is essential and how you can bring that to a role.

  1. Only make the jump if it’s what you want to do!

Just because you are ready to take the next step, there is no point in taking a role if it’s not for you and does not sit right. You need to love what you do which will make it more worthwhile. Your interest will provide more of an impact.

  1. Set your goals and speak out

You need to make your ambitions aware to your manager or headteacher, so they know you are looking to do more/ be promoted. Ask them for advice as each school can have a different route and process on how to do this. Get feedback on how you’re doing and whether they think you are ready. There could be a step they can help you with, before you leaving and it not working out.

  1. Think of your work life balance

Make sure that right now is the right time. Look at all aspects of your life, including your home life and the people you have around you. To become an SLT, it will chip into your personal time that little bit more and you need to find the balance that is right for you.

  1. You will need to let go

As said previously; of course, you love your specialist subject and you need to make sure you are ok with letting this go. Especially if you are moving from a Head of Department into an SLT role. You are going to have to let someone else take over, and the perfectionist/ protector must get used to this and someone else in charge.

  1. Learn your lead

Every leader is different, and you need to find your way. Research different styles and ways of leadership. You are not going to fit in with every method but looking into them in detail will support you in finding your own style and provide you with the knowledge you need.

  1. Be prepared and organise yourself

It seems obvious and can be easier said than done. But there is a lot you will need to ensure you are completing as you will have a lot to think about. Organise yourself, get a planner (electric or old fashion pen and paper) or even both! This will help you balance your working life (and probably your home life too!)

  1. Why not let us help you?

If you have lots of experience and are looking to take that next step, or you feel it’s time to resign , why not let Dunbar Education help you.

Dunbar Education is a specialist education recruitment agency, matching the best teachers, support staff and senior leaders into our fantastic schools. Get in touch and let us help you today.