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In my previous school I had the responsibility for Initial Teacher Education for 5 years. I supported the PGCE and GTP students and the NQTs and Overseas Trained Teachers. I would also like to think that we supported teachers well into their 2nd and 3rd years.

It is a role I loved and miss and am always happy to discuss or answer questions about it. There is a blog I started but never really used which may have some useful links on it (they may also be out of date).

One of the NQTs from a couple of years ago asked me for advice about becoming a head of department as I was in the midst of leaving and I’m not sure I ever replied properly, so this is for you, I hope it helps and sorry it has taken so long.

Believe in HOD – some ideas to help aspiring heads of dept/subject leaders:

(some schools use the term HOD and others subject leader. I use the terms interchangeably here but feel that the head of dept title is a more traditional one and as such is associated with more of an administrative definition. It is advisable to check the job specification and exact title in each school.)

1. Lead by example. Be the best teacher you can be. ‘Subject leaders’ should lead curriculum innovation and pedagogy in their departments.

2. Get involved. In dept. meetings (you could offer to lead one), in whole school activities (run some CPD or an assembly), in after school clubs, apply/volunteer for positions of responsibility i.e. head of KS or 2nd in charge, mentor new or trainee staff (even unofficially) etc

3. Do the easy stuff well. Be on time, meet deadlines, follow school procedures etc

4. Make it known. Let your line manger know that you want to be a head of dept in the future.

5. Get some relevant CPD. Maybe on a course or internally from current/new HODs.

6. Ask to do some joint observations with the HOD (or other middle or senior leader). Getting experience of this is important as it is a key role of the head of dept.

This is not an exhaustive list and I welcome feedback and other ideas.


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