Advice on new National Standards for head teachers

The National Standards for Headteachers were published on 19 January.  You can download the new standards and accompanying guidance here –National Standards of Excellence for Headteachers.

As we advised on last year’s courses, the most pressing issue for heads and governors now is to agree senior leadership pay ranges in line with the 2014 Pay and Conditions Document, determine the number of points within those ranges and establish a clear description of what “good enough” looks like for progression to each of those points – thus bringing arrangements for leadership pay into line with those established for teachers in 2013.  If this task hasn’t yet been completed, our advice is that it should be done as quickly as possible – as we have recently come across the first example of teacher unions claiming that a previously adopted pay policies is now invalid because it does not meet this statutory requirement.

Sadly, the news standards will be to all intents and purposed useless in addressing this urgent task. The accompanying guidance makes it clear that they have no role to play in judging levels of performance as, unlike the teachers standards, they are “not mandatory.”

Quite an achievement to produce a set of non-statutory national standards, accompanied by non-statutory guidance, which will be of no use whatsoever to heads and governors in terms of meeting their statutory obligation to frame appropriate professional skills level descriptors for leadership pay points! 

Overall though, it is probably not a bad thing that the standards will be shunted to the educational sidings – for two key reasons:

  1. The aspirational and adjective-rich language harks back to the Golden Days of Professional Steam and it would not be easy to make judgements against them
  2. There are no statutory national standards for deputy heads and assistant heads either; this means that, for the purposes of describing pay progression criteria, all senior leaders are in the same position.

This outcome strengthens the advice we have been giving on our courses – namely that expectations of minimum performance levels for each type of leadership post should be set by reference to job descriptions and graded performance assessments against a range of key leadership skills.  Neil and I will now produce updated advice in this respect and send it as a further AESOPP update as soon as possible. You’ll be able to get up to date training on our national half day courses in February.