DfE publishes updated headteachers standards for 2020

On the 13 October 2020, the Department for Education (DfE) published new standards for Headteachers which replaced the 2015 national standards of excellence for Headteachers. Although only guidance, rather than embedded in law, the standards articulate how headteachers can meet both the additional responsibilities of headship and the requirements of the teachers’ standards. We have outlined the key points below which Headteachers and School Governing Bodies should be aware of.

Key points

The purpose of the standards is noted to be, to shape headteachers’ own practice and professional development, support the recruitment and appointment of headteachers, underpin frameworks for the training of school leaders and inform the performance management of headteachers. Crucially, it is important for the guidelines to be interpreted in the context of each individual headteacher and school.

Section 1 of the standards relate to ethics and professional conduct which is noted to be the ‘core of the standards’. The expectation on headteachers is to uphold and demonstrate the seven principles of public life which is required of public office holders. These are, selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.  Further expectations on headteachers are thereafter noted including, “conducting themselves in a manner compatible with their influential position in society by behaving ethically, fulfilling their professional responsibilities and modelling the behaviour of a good citizen.”

Section 2 then moves onto 10 standards that are expected of all headteachers:

  1. School Culture- Headteachers are required to establish and sustain the school’s ethos and strategic direction as well as promote positive relationships across the school community;
  2. Teaching- There is a requirement on headteachers to establish and sustain high-quality teaching across all subjects which is underpinned by high level of subject expertise;
  3. Curriculum and assessment- A broad, structured and coherent curriculum should be implemented by headteachers and they must ensure that all pupils are taught to read using evidence informed approaches. 
  4. Behaviour- Headteachers should ensure high standards of pupil behaviour and implement fair approaches to manage behaviour.
  5. Additional and special educational needs and disabilities- Headteachers should ensure that the school holds ambitious expectations for such pupils. Effective partnerships with parents, carers and professionals should also be ensured.
  6. Professional development- Headteachers should ensure staff have access to high-quality professional development opportunities and this should be prioritised.
  7. Organisational management- a duty is imposed on headteachers to ensure the protection and safety of pupils and staff through effective approaches to safeguarding. Financial recourses should also be prioritised and allocated appropriately. There is also a focus on headteachers having regard to staff workload when managing and deploying staff.
  8. Continuous school improvement- Priority areas of improvement of the school should be identified using proportional process of evaluation and headteachers should further ensure improvement strategies are carefully and effectively implemented.
  9. Working in partnership- Headteachers should work in partnership with parents, careers and the local community as well as commit their school to work with other schools and organisations for mutual support.
  10. Governance and accountability- Finally, headteachers must welcome the role of effective governance as well as establish a professional working relationship with those responsible for governance and ensure their staff are held to account and know their responsibilities.
Implications for schools

It is clear that ethics and conduct are at the core of the guidance and Headteachers should also remain aware of the governance and accountability requirements on them that underpin the standards set out in section 2. These standards will be particularly useful for governing bodies whose job it is to recruit, support and manage Headteachers and other senior leaders and it is important to be aware of the updated standards to remain aware of when they are not being met.

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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