Research

Exploring the evolving role of middle leaders in schools

A delegation of school leaders convened on campus this week for a flagship meeting of the Schools, Students and Teachers Network (SSAT), to address the contemporary challenges placed on middle leaders in schools.

Organised by Professor Alma Harris and Dr Michelle Jones from the Department of Education this meeting involved a cross-section of leaders, at different levels, from a range of schools.

The theme of the event was a focus on the evolving roles of middle managers and their changing development needs. The event highlighted how schools’ success often rests on the attributes and performance of its middle leaders and there was a consensus that middle leaders deserve more research attention and support.

The UK-based, independent educational membership organisation, SSAT is focused on applied solutions to help improve standards in our schools.

Part of the focus for the event was to consider the contemporary developmental needs of middle leaders and to address how far existing training and staff development meet these needs. The aim of the inaugural meeting of this group was to identify a development and research programme, focused on middle leaders and middle leadership

The workshop was opened by Sue Williamson (CEO of SSAT) and Dr Mary Hayden (Head of Department), and led by Professor Alma Harris and Dr Michelle Jones.

Professor Harris is Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy and is internationally known for her work on school improvement, focusing in particularly on improving schools in challenging circumstances. Dr Jones is recognised internationally as an expert in educational leadership, professional learning and blended or flipped, learning.

Commenting, Professor Harris explained: "The role of middle leaders in schools has never been so important, as school face new and complex challenges. We are delighted to be working with the SSAT on this new development and research opportunity which is intended to support all those in middle leadership positions."

Dr Michelle Jones added: "The responsibilities of middle leaders are now more extensive in the contemporary school landscape, therefore it is time to focus on developing their leadership skills and capabilities, as middle leaders are key to the ongoing success and improvement of any school. This event provided an opportunity to discuss the contemporary roles and responsibilities of middle leadership in different contexts."

Sue Williamson, CEO of the SSAT, said: “It was a wonderful and stimulating day that produced plenty of ideas for a fresh look at middle leadership in schools and multi-academy trusts. The international experience of Dr Michelle Jones and Professor Alma Harris was invaluable.”

Representatives from the SSAT and our Department for Education at the event held on campus on Tuesday. From left - right: Beth Kirk (Project Manager, SSAT), Professor Alma Harris, Sue Williamson (CEO, SSAT), Dr Mary Hayden (Head of Department), Dr Michelle Jones, Daniel Belcher and Kike Agunbiade (Senior Education Leads, SSAT).

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