Leading Teaching: The Life Of A Deputy Headteacher

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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How would you go about leading whole-school teaching and learning?

Our job as leaders is to get the teaching right. Learning is personal, it’s social, it’s moral, it’s about helping young people and staff to grow and develop. (@LeadingLearner)

SSAT National Conference 2015:

“In December 2015, I will be delivering a keynote at the SSAT National Conference: Leading Learning on Friday, December 4th at 1:25pm. The SSAT National Conference will focus on the two principles that underpin all excellent education systems: quality and equity. If each individual school, and our society as a whole, is serious about social mobility then we have to continue closing the gap while raising the overall quality of teaching and learning …”

I am working on this whole-school teaching and learning project. I look forward to traveling north to my family home, and to meet with colleagues from Manchester and across the region.

The theme I will be part of on this day, focuses on putting learning at the heart of school leadership. Delegates who attend will debate the curriculum, assessment after levels, CPD and staff learning, whole-school pedagogy, student voice and co-construction, and evidence-informed practice.

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Below is my interview in SecEd magazine for the forthcoming national conference. I hope to share some the ideas that we are implementing in our school, as well as some of my own ideas for shaping teacher-pedagogy nationally.


Ross Morrison McGill believes that school leaders need to give teaching staff the time and space to “learn, consolidate and share best practice together”.

Thanks to his 103,000 followers on Twitter, his widely read blog TeacherToolkit, and his books, he is one of the best-known teachers in the UK. Most of his time however, is taken up with his role as deputy head at Quintin Kynaston, an 11 to 18 academy school in North London with 1,350 students. Mr. McGill joined Quintin Kynaston in September 2014, just as Ofsted judged that after “a period of challenges and difficulties” the school “required improvement”. He has since written publicly about what he calls “the unreliability and invalidity” of this judgement.

In the last year, the school has made a point of focusing on CPD and staff learning. It now has a collapsed timetable by an hour each week and that time is dedicated to staff CPD.

“It doesn’t mean we do something new each week,” said Mr. McGill. “We consolidate a lot of practice we have already done and revisit marking, planning and tracking data by sharing best practice with each other, both in a structured and unstructured setting.”

He makes a point of keeping up-to-date with the latest education research and was particularly struck by a review published by the Teacher Development Trust calling for a move towards longer-term programmes of CPD, support and engagement. Mr. McGill sees staff wellbeing as key to a school’s success:

“Happy teachers mean happy kids and happy kids mean a happy school. In turn we achieve happier outcomes.”

He has also launched a bursary for Quintin Kynaston teachers who want to do long-term research. So far, 15 staff have opted to do this. Those engaged in research are encouraged to share their work at action research evenings. Mr. McGill blogs most days and says that writing about teaching informs his own professional development and that of others. He still teaches design technology and as well as supporting pupils, he sees his role as developing the skills of teachers and support staff:

The culture of CPD in my new school is phenomenal. It can only grow stronger.

Ross Morrison McGill is a former SSAT Lead Practitioner. His books 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers and (available this week) Teacher Toolkit: Helping you survive your first five years are both published by Bloomsbury Education.

You can preview the article in publication below and read the full magazine here.

I look forward to seeing you in Manchester. You can follow the conversation on Twitter, using the hashtag #SSATNC15.


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