At the beginning of each academic year I am asked to draft some key actions for improvement based on the results of our annual review.
I integrate this into our next year’s development plan which then becomes the focus for my regular meetings with the member of our SLT who line manages mathematics.
This is a very helpful prompt for me to make sure that my development plan really does take into account the findings of our annual review and the regular SLT meetings are invaluable to really keep me focused.
I have regular meetings with a member of SLT both informally and formally. The Mathematics Improvement Plan, already approved by SLT, forms the main agenda item of the fortnightly line management meetings between me and my line manager. I find these regular meetings very useful in ensuring that SLT support and challenge me in my role. Fortunately, we also have frequent informal discussions which give me opportunities to talk through frustrations and successes as they arise. This second layer of interaction makes our more formal meetings more productive – we don’t waste time on less important issues.
We are a Maths and Computing College, and the Specialist School improvement plan incorporates the mathematics department improvement plan. The deputy head teacher with responsibility for specialist school status line manages both the maths and ICT departments and meets regularly with both subject leaders. The deputy’s whole-school perspective means that she can take the good practice from the mathematics department and develop this across the whole school. We in the maths department also benefit from the maths and computing status by accessing new technology and participating in joint teaching and learning projects. This joint line management makes it easier for both subjects to contribute towards the specialist school improvement plan.
(Excerpts from the Ofsted report Mathematics: understanding the score).
This report offers a range of external perspectives, examples of good practice and indications of national trends and standards which can be very helpful to a subject leader.
Here we have included elements which are relevant to this section on liaison with SLT.
66. Many schools evaluated accurately the effectiveness of their work in mathematics and identified strengths and areas for development. In primary schools, the quality of mathematics provision generally matched the rest of the school’s work. This was not the case in the secondary schools visited, where work in mathematics was often weaker than the rest of the school’s work overall and rarely a notable strength. Many senior staff recognised this. It highlights the need to improve provision for mathematics at a time when including mathematics and English in one of the high-profile measures of performance at GCSE level has already increased the pressure on mathematics departments. Overall, however, senior staff in secondary schools did not give sufficient consideration to supporting and developing either new or established leaders of mathematics.
67. The collaborative support of senior staff, often the head teacher, for the subject leader helped to strengthen the effectiveness of leadership and management in many primary schools. This was particularly important for new or inexperienced subject leaders, as was the case in a quarter of the schools visited. Other than for professional satisfaction, there is a lack of incentive for primary teachers to develop their expertise in mathematics in order to be better placed to support their colleagues and raise standards. Since the national reforms to responsibilities for teaching and learning, the leadership of subjects is no longer as hierarchical as previously, when leadership of mathematics and English tended to be regarded as more senior posts and often carried a responsibility point.