Notes for the subject line manager

Advice on the involvement of the subject line manager, including the characteristics of leadership, how the manager improves the quality of teaching and learning in mathematics, and their role in the scheme of work.

Characteristics of subject leadership

[The best leaders] used the outcomes of monitoring and analysis of test results to inform approaches to teaching and learning and the development of the curriculum. They also used professional development opportunities to disseminate and build on good practice and to tackle areas of inconsistency and weaknesses. Effective practitioners helped colleagues to develop aspects of their work. Occasionally, this included developing teachers’ knowledge of mathematics, as well as how it might be taught. Teachers’ readiness and commitment to giving and receiving such support was a hallmark of the school or department’s ethos. Such an approach was seen not simply in high-achieving schools but also often in those working hard and effectively to improve, sometimes in challenging circumstances.

Conversely, weaker leaders tended to rely heavily on their assumptions about the strengths of individual teachers, the degree of consistency, and the extent of teamwork among staff…some senior managers interpreted quiet individual work on textbook exercises as good learning in mathematics. While informal strategies provided some useful insights, they did not reliably uncover weaknesses and pinpoint areas for development. Monitoring which was insufficiently systematic and robust generated too rosy a view of provision and little impetus for improvement.

Mathematics: understanding the score, Ofsted 2008 (paragraphs 69 and 70)

Characteristics of subject line management

The role of subject line manager is to support the subject leader in improving and monitoring the quality of teaching and learning in mathematics. Crucial to improvement is establishing a climate in the department that encourages collaboration in developing fresh approaches and taking risks. Enabling a department to work together to review and improve the scheme of work is an effective way of developing the staff in the department, at the same time as improving the infrastructure of planning. This planning area structures this developmental work through a series of tasks. They are addressed to the subject leader and suggest ways in which a line manager should also be consulted and involved.

Taking an active part in the development of the mathematics scheme of work through, for example, lesson observation, pupil interviews and attendance at department meetings, will sharpen the focus of judgements made by the line manager. Reviewing the impact of this development work will provide a focus for the regular meetings between them and subject leader.

Actions for a line manager

  1. Arrange a meeting with your subject leader; read 'Role of the subject leader' before the meeting.
  2. Meet the subject leader, using the agenda suggested at the end of 'Managing and leading the development'.
  3. Review the impact of scheme developments as a fixed item in regular meetings with the subject leader.