6 tips on how to become a highly effective Subject Leader

Leading a subject area effectively is one of the most important elements in securing high quality teaching and learning in the classroom.

Whether you’re stepping up to take a leadership post for the first time, or have years of experience under your belt; there are always new challenges to face so it’s important to keep learning and finding new ways to make an impact. 

School Improvement Liverpool share their guide to successful subject leadership, giving you the skills to take the reins confidently.

| Sponsored content


New subject leaders

1. Have a clear action plan

As a subject leader you have to balance your teaching responsibilities alongside your duties as a school leader. In your first term, it’s important to establish your routines and expectations to overcome one of the greatest challenges: your dual role as a great teacher and leader.

Be aware of the strengths and areas of development within your subject and remember to set yourself achievable targets and timescales.

2. Communicate with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT)

Being a subject leader in one school may mean something entirely different to being a subject leader in your school. So don’t be afraid to ask for help and learn what is generally expected of your role.

Ask the SLT for feedback on your progress so far to check you’re going in the right direction. School improvement comes from discussion, collaboration and support, so remember to be visible, celebrate colleagues’ successes and be accountable.

3. Own your subject

Own your subject and represent it well! Your role is to be the face and voice of your subject and support teachers to lead to improvement.

If you find pupils have knowledge gaps in your subject area, ask yourself why and be self-critical. Review all your resources and make sure you access all the advice/guidance available to you.

School Improvement Liverpool run Subject Leadership briefings throughout the year (more details can be found at

Established Subject Leaders

1. Establish and review the impact of the monitoring cycle

Establishing a robust cycle of monitoring and evaluation activities will ensure that you can swiftly identify areas for development and put key actions in place.

Termly monitoring and evaluation methods could include assessment weeks, pupil progress meetings (PPMs) and parent consultations. Once a monitoring cycle is established, you can work alongside the SLT to review its impact and ensure that all children have the tools to help them realise their full potential.

2. Be approachable

Successful subject leadership is all about collaboration – in fact, collaboration has become closely linked with school improvement.

Subject leaders should listen to fellow colleagues, provide cross-curricular support and most importantly be approachable. As an experienced subject leader, you can help other members of your team hone new skills which could lead to real tangible results for the whole school community.

3. Know your school

This sounds simple enough, but understanding your school environment is essential – the strengths, areas for development and key next steps. As they say, knowledge is power, so arm yourself with all the information you need to make informed suggestions and ideas.

Once you have gained a clearer picture of what you intend to change, it’s important to map out your vision, and keep it realistic. Draw up timelines and key action points to hit throughout the year – start small with weekly targets and then develop long-term goals for each term or academic year.

Develop your skills with School Improvement Liverpool’s upcoming conferences:

Primary Maths Conference (09:15 – 15:45) 18th may 2017
SEND Conference & Exhibition (09:00 – 16:30) 27th June 2017
Primary English Conference (09:00 – 15:45) 4th July 2017
Primary Science Conference (09:30 – 15:30) 14th July 2017

About School Improvement Liverpool

Experts in education, with a firmly established reputation as one of the leading service providers in the North West. We offer schools a superior service, delivering consultancy, training and professional development via our trusted and experienced team, who have proven track records of excellence and credibility.

Last year, we worked with over 700 schools, settings and businesses across the North West. We delivered over 600 CPD & training courses and held 18 conferences, helping more than 8,000 professionals to develop.

Find out more:

You may also like...