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Developing a ‘star quality workforce’

By Nick File, Acting Headteacher, Nene Valley Primary School, OWN Trust

Since I entered senior leadership as an assistant head, staff development has always been a high priority for me. Confident, capable, and conscientious staff at all levels lead to successful outcomes for children. I believe that many people have the potential to be great teachers with the correct support and nurture. Many fail to achieve this not because they do not have the potential but because they do not have role models who demonstrate a ‘star quality’ explicitly, or do not receive CPD in a targeted way do develop these ‘star qualities’ – which I have learnt as a leader is often very difficult to organise!


Tom Sherrington and Oliver Caviglioli talk about ‘Star quality’ in their research. The development of instructional coaching guides supports the profession’s ability to have a professional dialogue around the key elements of teaching or the ‘star’ behaviours that lead to high-quality teaching.


It is tempting to think that recruiting ‘star’ personnel would solve problems of poor teaching, but in the long term, this doesn’t develop the existing staff and therefore will always lead to elements of poorer delivery. Habits and behaviours developed within existing staff, at every level from midday supervisor to teacher or even school leader should be the goal of an organisation looking for success. In order to create a workforce of ‘stars’, leaders need to look at what behaviours and habits are demonstrated by the more skilled or successful staff. By cultivating these behaviours - modelling and teaching them - more of the workforce will then have more successful relationships and learning experiences with children.


My time at Nene Valley, from the deputy’s role through to 18 months of Acting Headship, has been most rewarding in seeing adults grow as much as the children we educate. Teaching can often be seen as a set of standards to tick rather than a group of behaviours to learn. Until this changes, the profession will continue to have inconsistent conversations led by personal preference and favoured individuals.

Photo by Tim Hüfner on Unsplash