Stepping up to the next level can be uncomfortable at times and may come across as shouting about your achievements, self-promoting or even, dare I say it, sucking up. I have been thinking about this as my role at work will change in a years time, I will become the senior deputy for professional development. Professional development can be two things, either to enable someone to move to the next level or to become even better in their current role. Technical expertise should be invested in and valued as much as progression up the ladder, everyone in an organisation should be engaging in professional development continuously, working towards providing the best education that we can for the children in our care. This blog isn’t really about professional development as such, I’ll write more about that another time. I wanted to write about what is required if you are looking for a promotion because I’m not sure it is always obvious which means opportunities might be missed.
My new role has come about because our school is within a family and to drive forward some efficiency gains the SMTs across the senior schools are becoming more and more over-arching; rather than having responsibility for one school, I will have responsibility for professional development of staff across both and the other two deputies will act in the same overarching capacity. The announcement of the shake up in SMT and what seemed like the creation of new roles caused a bit of upset for some as they felt that they had missed the chance to apply themselves and demonstrate their own competency. I understand this frustration and it has made me think about how do people show that they are able to move into a new role: we have to have examples. How do we collect those examples? By being proactive and starting initiatives, taking on new responsibilities that we might not be remunerated for, doing things that solve a problem, demonstrating that we know what skills are required for the next level by, as much as is possible, delivering some of the tasks that it will require. This might stretch you and you might find yourself doing more than your current job description, you might start to give up more of your time without being rewarded for it but it is an investment because it will provide the examples necessary to demonstrate readiness for the next rung on the ladder. Those that do this might be seen as self-promoting and ambitious, driven but, being ambitious and driven are certainly two attributes that are key if you are going to move upwards. Talking about wanting to be recognised isn’t enough, a line manager should offer guidance and support but ultimately you have to be the one who is proactive and seizes the initiative and gets stuck in not waiting to be asked but seeing a way of solving a problem the school has and cracking on with it.
All that being said, I am increasingly convinced that a successful organisation is one that values technical expertise and provides a pay scale for those who want to remain in a technical role. In the schools I’ve worked in, the only way to move up the scale is to take on greater responsibility but that means great teachers spend less and less time in the classroom. Great teachers can become excellent leaders but there should be a way to reward those who wish to remain at the chalk-face and invest their time in their teaching practice. We all have different skills and find our niche, an effective leader is one who creates an environment where all staff can thrive and be rewarded within their chosen niche. A good school relies upon having a team of staff who’s expertise are celebrated and relied upon but that also means there might need to be a pay scale that doesn’t require promotion out of the classroom. I’m not sure I have the answer to this but it is something I will continue to ponder on and see what I can do to make it happen.