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General Chat Thread, Career opportunities after being a IT Tech? in General; My career consists of 8.5 years as IT Technician in a secondary, then Web Developer at a small online software ...
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    webman's Avatar
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    My career consists of 8.5 years as IT Technician in a secondary, then Web Developer at a small online software startup.

    With the time I spent at the school, I was lucky enough for it to provide me with many opportunities to discover, learn and enhance my skills, which (eventually) put me on the path I'm on now. It wasn't planned - it sort of just happened because that's the area I enjoyed and focused on over the years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ephelyon View Post
    Changed my mind. Rather than expanding at this stage and running the risk of everyone talking at cross purposes, is it useful first to come to an understanding we can all agree on as to what exactly a Senior Management/Leadership Team is, what its purpose is within an organisation (of any kind as I see no reason to differentiate) and what it's for?

    Having chatted with @GrumbleDook about this, he took a view that I hadn't considered before which involved the potential ramifications of having a "top-heavy" leadership team. Unfortunately I didn't quite get everything he was saying as the line was quite bad - anything he could add would be great!
    A bit late replying but to clear up the conversation the scenarios go something like these.

    School A
    The senior level of a school has on it a significant number of staff with 'Manager' status. These are above the general layer of Middle Leaders (Heads of Department / Year) and have significant whole school responsibility. This could make up to 15 people in a large school. That is getting to be a committee, not a Leadership Team. In this scenario you will see the most senior member of the IT team as a member ... with a large caveat ... that this person has both the responsibility (and ability) to make significant decisions that affect the delivery of services to the school. In this scenario it is very common to then have a core SLT which would consist of the Head/Principal and their immediate underlings (Deputies/Assistants) ... usually making up no more than 5 people. These will often have over-sight of several of the senior managers from the wider SLT. This then scales quite well to Academy group level, where the Director of IT would sit on the management teams of several schools.

    School B
    A school has a large Middle Leaders group who are well integrated and work closely together where there is overlap. The SLT is then small, with 4-6 people (depending on size of school) and then it depends on where the line management of services sit. If IT Services are developed in line with Education / Curriculum Development then the direct line management is often with the SLT member with this responsibility. If they are developed in line with backoffice / school services (i.e. more of business model) then the direct line management is often through the senior 'business' person ... sometimes the Bursar / Business Manager or a similar name, but a person whose role spans from facilities, HR, policies / procures, project management, etc.

    In both these scenarios we have to accept that management in itself is a skill, and that you will, at times, manage things you have no knowledge of. As a Director of IT I might be expected to manage AV, though I have no direct experience of setting up a stage (lighting, sound, the difference between stages that are thrust or in the round, etc) but I could be expected to manage those staff. When you get to a certain point in IT you might also take your finger off the pulse as you don't have time to be an expert on *every* technology, partly because you may have specialised and partly because you have staff (trusted staff) with that expertise.

    One model I have seen in a number of successful schools is the smaller central SLT (scenario A) rotate their management responsibilities each year. Between 4 people they take on 3 core responsibilities and at the end of the year they will pass on one responsibility to someone else and pick up a new one themselves (part of their management development is being able to pass these responsibilities on with ease ... a core part of project management as well). This gives a well-rounded SLT, but you lose out on the specialist.

    Another model (Scenario B) is where the SLT member stays in their specialist role for pretty much most things, making the most of their experience and expertise ... but this reduces the oversight and accountability a Head can have on their SLT, as well as reducing the opportunities you can offer prospective new SLT members (a big risk when it is hard to get people into these roles at the moment).

    If you don't have the layer between core SLT and the wider management team you get a top heavy leadership team, expensive to run and often with little overlap between the managers (you can often see people protecting their position by not letting others in) and so things spiral downwards.

    If you don't have good overlap with the large Middle Leaders group you get silos of work which can cause duplication and increase inefficiencies.

    To be honest, most scenarios can work, it can be down to having the right person in the right place at the right time (make use of existing skills and then help transfer them to other part of the school), but it boils down to ensuring responsibility and accountability is clear.

    This is nothing out of the ordinary for any part of public or private sector. ILM do some very interesting course around some of this, and the CSBM/DSBM covers a chunk of the above as well (NPQH also does but with a different slant and Leading from the Middle was also a good course).
    ASCL probably do some of the best course aimed at potential Senior Leaders ... and they changed their name a number of years ago from SHA (Secondary Heads Association) to Association of School & College Leaders to reflect that not everyone who is a leader will be a teacher (amongst other things).

  3. 3 Thanks to GrumbleDook:

    Ephelyon (3rd April 2014), Roberto (3rd April 2014), witch (3rd April 2014)

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