Call for focus on staff leadership skills

Schools should develop the leadership skills of all their staff – from classroom teachers to senior leaders – and should embrace a system of "distributed leadership", inspectors have urged.

A report from Welsh education inspectorate Estyn highlights best practice in leadership development from schools across Wales, drawing on inspection reports and interviews with school leaders, teachers and support staff.

It details how many of the schools have established a culture where professional learning is valued, with school leaders carrying out detailed analyses of the knowledge, skills and attributes required for each leadership role and using this information to identify staff with leadership potential.

They prioritise the identification of leadership talent early on in teachers' careers and embrace distributed leadership by giving all staff the chance to lead on aspects of school work.

The report states: "The most successful school leaders employ strategies for identifying and nurturing the leadership potential of all their staff, particularly early in their careers, and for supporting them to develop the skills they need to become the school leaders of the future.

"Where schools are not successful in developing a strong leadership culture, headteachers do not focus well enough on improving the quality of teaching and do not provide appropriate professional development activities to help staff build on their existing skills and knowledge."

Successful schools use expertise from within their school and from other schools to "enhance professional learning for staff", the report says. It adds: "They encourage their staff to take advantage of internal acting or temporary leadership posts and to take up secondments elsewhere to enhance their leadership experience.

"Many headteachers have successfully developed a system of distributed leadership across the school. This concept provides all teachers with opportunities to lead specific aspects of school work."

Best Practice in Leadership Development in Schools features a number of case studies of schools where the leadership development impressed inspectors.

Chief inspector Meilyr Rowlands said: "Strong leadership behaviours at all levels is a key part of creating successful schools. It is important for schools to support all their staff, including those at the beginning of their careers, to develop their leadership potential."

The report can be downloaded at