The New Middle Leader's Handbook

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The New Middle Leader's Handbook

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'The New Middle Leader's Handbook' is the definitive go-to guide for all educators looking to take the leap into middle leadership, those wanting to become better middle leaders, or senior leaders seeking an authoritative manual for their school's middle leadership.


'The New Middle Leader's Handbook' is the definitive go-to guide for all educators looking to take the leap into middle leadership, those wanting to become better middle leaders, or senior leaders seeking an authoritative manual for their school's middle leadership.

Innovatively organised into chapters around the school year, taking readers from August to July and covering the full range of problems, challenges and opportunities they face in one of the most important roles in the school, and providing them with a framework to strategically plan and shape their year. Readers can use the book to structure their work into manageable portions while tailoring its content to their own personal school context, and its many activities and resources will provide opportunities for reflection, analysis and creative thinking.

Operating as a practical manual and designed for easy reference, the book proposes methods, systems and procedures for: developing a personal leadership style; managing and driving dynamic change; building a successful team and challenging resistance; challenging underperformance of staff and students; using performance management to drive improvement; monitoring the quality of teaching and learning; tracking and measuring progress; preparing for inspection or internal review, including the self-evaluation process; organising meetings and leading professional development, including the use of the coaching model; prioritising workload and maintaining a work/life balance; developing a strategic learning and development plan; creating a culture of positive behaviour, aspiration and high expectations; innovating in teaching and learning; and designing a creative curriculum and curriculum enrichment.

In addition, the book will guide those wishing to step up to middle leadership through the application and interview process, providing common-sense advice on the experience and skills required to become a successful middle leader. At its core, the book will be a source of stability for middle leaders that helps them to establish working principles that transcend changes to examinations, inspection criteria or DfE guidance.

It offers inspiration and enable a reflective approach to the role. The book is comprehensive and knowledgeable, but crucially, accessible, written in a style that will eschew overly academic theorising, trendy soundbites or patronising waffle. In its final chapters, it looks beyond the first year to provide guidance on long-term strategic planning, career development and bridging the gap between middle and senior leadership.

About the authors

With 26 years of teaching experience between them (encompassing roles such as classroom teacher, head of year, second in department, literacy coordinator, curriculum leader and assistant head teacher) and four years delivering professional development for ASCL, James Ashmore and Caroline Clay are ideally placed to write an informed, up to date and engaging core text for both aspiring and established middle leaders.

They both currently work as educational consultants on a diverse range of projects with Caroline teaching English and in post as Communications Coordinator at a rapidly improving secondary school while I am supporting a number of English faculties in improving practice and developing staff.


"This is without question the best single volume on middle leadership in schools. There can be no doubt that if you commit to working though this book, packed with a lifetime of experience and anecdote, you will accelerate your career path (if this is part of your plan), as well as gain insight into your own life journey, as this book helps to clarify thinking about personal motivation on the path to being an authentic human being and leader.” Guy Holloway, Headmaster, Hampton Court House

"James and Caroline have left no stone unturned in this comprehensive and insightful handbook: a must-read not only for all middle leaders, but for Headteachers too. Written in a convivial, easy-to-read style, it is firmly rooted in professional experience and packed full of WISDOM (what I shall do on Monday).” Andrew Hammond, Headteacher, Glemsford Primary Academy

"The Middle Leaders’ Handbook is an essential source of guidance and reference for aspiring and recently appointed middle leaders.  Drawing on their extensive experience the authors take the reader through a comprehensive analysis of these roles offering helpful hints and advice coupled with a set of thought provoking tasks and self- evaluation tools. “ Brian Lightman, former general secretary of ASCL

"A real and practical roadmap for the aspiring or new HoD. No excuses not to read it – an inspirational chapter per month will work for even the most hardpressed HoD!” Dr Helen Wright, former president of the Girls’ Schools Association, former Head of St Mary’s Calne

“In schools, we need positive voices, and people who see the positive, like James and Caroline. They have written this book to say, “This is what leadership actually looks like in your context, for a person just like you.” here is a map, a compass, and a TripAdvisor piece of advice for each stop on the way. Just thinking about their clear structures and behaviours will make you a much better leader, even if in some instances you will choose to disagree (because we are all playing the game of “Who is Right?”). But the great thing about this book is that your leadership will oftener be righter than wronger.” Dominic Salles, Assistant Principal, Chipping Campden School

"Ashmore and Clay offer the most comprehensive guide to Middle Level Leadership that I have ever seen. Taking the reader on a journey from early aspirations, through to the nuts and bolts of the job. All of the essentials for effective Middle Level Leadership are covered and clearly explained.  Furthermore, the book teaches advanced management skills, whilst continuously promoting the individual style and vision of the leader. An enjoyable read and an essential guide for anyone wishing to make a success of this key role”. Mike Fairclough, Headmaster, West Rise Junior School, TES Primary School of the Year 2015

 “Refreshingly down to earth, dealing with the big important challenges to face middle leaders but without any of the management speak that can make readers feel inadequate. Middle leaders are the 'spinal column' of the body of a school and their impact increasingly subject to inspection scrutiny. This book provides timely self-help support” Dame Kathryn August DBE

Additional Information

Author James Ashmore and Caroline Clay
ISBN 1911382034
No of pages 304
Format Paperback
Publication Date 7 Oct 2016

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