Dear Colleague

We are a satisfactory college with good features but with a very real ambition to be outstanding. To be such a great college we need to create, share and embed outstanding teaching and learning practice across all areas. This must be practice that inspires, enables and challenges our young people to give of their very best in every subject, in every kind of learning opportunity. The Vice Principal for Teaching and Learning will play a critical role in bringing about such a transformation.

You will be joining a college that is very much in a new era of leadership and a strong element of this post is to play a defining role within the SLT and the college as a whole in taking the college forward and meeting new challenges. From that perspective the post offers excellent preparation for Headship.

I took up post as Principal in January 2011; prior to this the college had 18 years of continuous leadership under one Head. During that time the school had significant success, for example, in introducing vocational courses and raising attainment in 5 A*- C. In some years CVA was outstanding. We have been a National Challenge school and our 5 A*-C including English and mathematics results have improved year on year over the last 4 years, with results of 41% for 2011, our highest ever.

However, substantial and significant challenges remain. Part of the task ahead is about recognising that we are operating in a new educational landscape that will demand different approaches, new strategies of us at every leadership level. Our mission is to ensure the best, most appropriate provision possible for each and every student, with a goal to ensure that every child can make great progress in all aspects of their development. Currently, outcomes vary widely across subjects and there is a lack of confidence in our ability to address this successfully. Staff can identify areas in need of change but need further empowerment and challenge to develop new ways of working.

We have begun to establish a different leadership culture and to review systems, processes and practices to meet current challenges. Recent evaluations, including OFSTED, demonstrate that we need to create further capacity to accelerate the pace of change. I expect the new Vice Principal to hit the ground running in terms of establishing themselves with students, staff and the whole community in agreeing and communicating a vision for teaching and learning practice that can significantly raise aspirations and attainment across all groups of students. It is essential that the new Vice Principal is ready and able to lead a willing staff body with regards to this, a staff body where opportunities for collaboration and for moving practice forward thus far have been limited by various factors. I am looking for a leader who can build on the recent teaching and learning initiatives instigated at the college alongside defining great practice and ensuring that good and outstanding practice becomes the norm.

Additionally, I expect the new Vice Principal to model a leadership outlook and behaviours that has telling impact in developing leadership further at all levels within the college. I am looking for a colleague who will apply a strong, values-driven philosophy not just to specific areas of responsibility but across all areas of the college’s work, engaging with all stakeholders to take the college forward.

Much thought has been given to the person specification. I absolutely expect candidates to be outstanding practitioners – and demonstrate their ability to establish outstanding practice in other people’s classrooms. I am looking for significant leadership ability. Most likely, this will be demonstrated through impact at Senior Leadership Team level although the leadership of a large staff team outside of senior leadership could provide such evidence – if you can demonstrate leadership impact. Certainly evidence of significant whole-school responsibility is sought. The person specification is not designed to be exclusive but should make clear that it is up to candidates to demonstrate their readiness for this post. I am looking for a colleague who will give me confident, telling support. You may not be the finished article or ready for Headship yet but your philosophy and your way of working needs to be student potential-centred, positive about people and determined to secure best practice. Alongside myself and other leaders the successful candidate will be expected to fully engage in and raise the quality of dialogue regarding leadership within the college.

You must be able to deliver whole staff training and lead existing promoted post-holders in taking practice forward. A voluntary Teaching and Learning Group exists and has headed up significant developments with input from the lead practitioner teaching and learning appointed to the Wider Leadership Team on a temporary basis. From September 2010 until January 2012 the leadership of teaching and learning was taken on by Gaynor Laird, the Assistant Head who also holds the Quality Assurance brief. We are very clear that under the new SLT structure the Vice Principal Teaching and Learning will focus on the leadership and development of teaching and learning whilst the Assistant Head will focus on the Quality Assurance.

The challenge now is to make teaching and learning the top priority on everyone’s agenda. I need a strategic leader who can take the staff team with them and empower subject leaders, TLR holders – all staff – to become great practitioners. An assured grasp of theory and practice regarding teaching and learning is certainly needed; the ability to articulate and model this and influence the practice of others through day-to-day leadership is essential.

Having set out in some detail what the post will require you to do I want to draw your attention to the importance of how tasks are carried out. As a leader you will be able to engage an appropriate range of leadership styles for any particular circumstance, of course. You do need to be a good judge of people, be warm and approachable and able to hold colleagues to account in a constructive manner. An ability to consult effectively needs to run alongside a determination to get things moving in the key strategic areas.

I do hope that once you’ve read the information enclosed you decide to submit an application for this position. More information will be made available to shortlisted candidates.

Jen McIntosh