Ensuring successful subject leadership in primary schools


Well, the onus was not on me today!  Once in a while, it is rather nice to be able to sit back, listen and absorb.  David Weatherly’s third CPD event of this academic year was entitled ‘Ensuring successful subject leadership in primary schools‘ (http://www.davidweatherlyeducation.co.uk/geography-training.html), and very timely it was too, given that I am delivering training to schools within the Tewkesbury District Partnership on the same theme later this week and in mid-February.

David began by welcoming everyone (around 25 participants from schools throughout the UK, a few of whom I knew well or had met before) and outlining the aims and structure of the day.  He projected a quote from Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Chief Inspector for Schools in 2014 (‘Middle leaders are the engine of any school.  In many ways, you are the most important leadership group in the school.  The most important.’) before emphasising that a leader of learning is both strategic and operational.  David discussed the five strategic priorities of a Subject Lead, exploring each in depth and supplementing with references to geography and history as appropriate.  These included:

  1. Establishing a clear vision, purpose, values and aims for your subject: geography, with links to spatial awareness and thinking, and establishing a clear vision, purpose, values and aims for your subject: history.
  2. Subject provision, with attention given to progression from EYFS to Year 6; substantive knowledge; disciplinary knowledge; concepts – the organising framework of subjects; geographical concepts: the centrality of place; geographical second order concepts; historical concepts: the centrality of change; historical second order concepts; substantive concepts: define the subject matter – the content about which pupils are learning and examples from geography and history; concepts and the mastery model of learning; subject language acquisition: specialist vocabulary and technical terms; progression in subject vocabulary; continuity and sequencing and subject documentation.
  3. Learning as young geographers and historians through a pedagogy of enquiry: constructivism (exemplified by exploring two enquiries, namely Britain’s breathing spaces: What are National Parks for? and Why is Anthony considered a great Victorian?).  David also referred to pupils with SEND, learning outside the classroom and, along with the very knowledgeable Sheena Wright, geography and history in the EYFS, especially the educational programme for Understanding the World (UtW).
  4. Assessing outcomes – measuring ‘impact’, incorporating key considerations; inclusive and holistic formative assessment and numerous examples of pupils work in both geography and history at different Key Stages.
  5. Monitoring and evaluating provision and subsequent development planning.

Despite the huge amount of content to deliver, David and Sheena did so highly efficiently, finishing with three minutes left for questions, discussing points raised, etc., which they both did willingly and comprehensively.

Many thanks for another enlightening, if rather long day; revision of some material from previous training events, which is always good, as well as much new information to share more widely with others at Primary Humanities Network meetings, through school improvement work and subsequent bespoke and cluster CPD sessions that I deliver.


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