What does it take to be a Middle Leader?

This seems to be the Year of the Middle Leader at Edvectus. We’ve had some really juicy Middle leader roles in Vietnam, Dubai, Cayman Islands, Saudi Arabia and more.  Heads of Department are middle leaders, but more schools seem to be relying on non-subject specific middle leaders to help improve whole school provisions from the ground up, rather than hiring expensive consultants or more senior leaders. It’s a more hands-on, lower risk, and cost-effective approach that gives new opportunities to teachers who want to develop.

Middle leader jobs often combine a teaching load with a whole school responsibility. In a smaller school a middle leader might be part of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) whereas in a larger school they may not.

What does it take to be a middle leader?  First, most schools require that you have experience teaching in a good or outstanding school using the same curriculum. Why? Because middle leaders are often a key part of improving a school from the ground up, they need to know ‘what good looks like’ in a relevant setting.

Most schools will look very carefully at a CV (aka resume) for evidence of whole school impact. This means your CV should not read like a job description, it needs to have facts, figures and evidence of what difference you have made beyond your own classroom.  Additionally, many schools like to see you having been promoted within your school, which is evidence of the confidence your school has or had in you after seeing you in action.

Finally, you need to have the right personality fit to be a middle leader. Middle leaders often feel they are ‘neither fish nor fowl’. They are not running the school from the top, but they also have to hold their teaching colleagues to account. It can be a lonely job which is why many schools have a group of 3 or more Middle Leaders who can support each other. Middle Leadership requires high emotional intelligence, top-notch communication skills, empathy, and professionalism. 

Middle leader jobs come with a wide variety of job titles that vary by curriculum, school and region but include Special Needs Coordinators (SENCo, Inclusion Coordinators/INCos, Head of Special Needs/Exceptional Needs, and similar), Curriculum Coordinators, Teaching and Learning Leads, STEM and Technology Leads, and Pastoral Leads.

See some of our Middle Leader roles here: Middle Leader Roles

Leave a comment