So where does this leave middle leadership? The report made recommendations to policy makers that ‘best practice should be researched, articulated and promoted to schools to minimise disparity between institutions .’ This is something Scotland has had in place in the form of the ‘Standard for Middle Leadership: An Aspirational Professional Standard for Scotland’s Teachers’ enacted in August 2021. Whilst primarily setting out the professional knowledge, skills and attributes of middle leaders, they work to provide a framework for professional growth, a reference point for the entitlement that middle leaders have for support and training. Consequently they also serve as an important self evaluation and reflection tool for teachers with additional responsibilities .
The DfE Teachers’ Standards serve the sector well as a framework of professional knowledge, skills and attributes but when a teacher’s role evolves to include a leadership capacity, these standards provide little guidance on the necessary skillset. There is a large jump from the Teachers’ Standards to the Headteachers’ Standards and whilst the NPQs work to plug this gap, not all middle leaders will want the additional pressure of completing these. Will we see additional standards being added like those adopted by Scotland? In the meantime schools and trusts may consider developing their own standards which set out the knowledge, skills and attributes required for their own setting.