I enjoyed reading Fearghal’s report on developing teacher leadership. Just a couple of caveats. I have no doubt that there is a lot of excellent teaching going on in Scotland’s classrooms and that sharing good practice is a powerful means of promoting effective learning for every child. Finding the time for teachers to come together to share their expertise can be devilishly difficult, however.
What is essential (desirable is not good enough) is that head teachers and their staffs should formally agree that such sharing of expertise is one of the best ways of promoting the learning of all pupils. They should then agree that a proportion of all development time will be ring fenced for such sharing of expertise.
Head teachers should also stand ready to ring fence a proportion of their budgets to support well-planned sharing initiatives. SCEL could continue to play its part by raising awareness nationally of examples of good sharing practice, as identified, for example, by HMI or local authorities or SCEL itself.
In all of this, the value of self-directed development by individual teachers accessing virtual sharing sessions in their own development time should not be minimised. It is important to remember, however, that good teaching is first and foremost about the nature of individual relationships between teachers and pupils and not about a set of one-size-fits-all technical skills.
Sharing of skills may not be as important as sharing and inspiring commitment to key values among other colleagues. Perhaps that is where the leadership bit of teacher leadership comes in most powerfully.
Richard Lynas is a former secondary school head teacher who worked as a leadership consultant with the national team who developed the original Standard for Headship and the Scottish Qualification for Headship.