How to become a headteacher

How to become a headteacher in the UK

Attaining the prestigious position of headteacher is one of the most rewarding moments of a teacher’s career and often represents the culmination of years, if not decades, of teaching.

A headteacher’s day to day role includes such responsibilities as:

  1. Conducting any leadership and management necessary in order to keep your school running smoothly
  2. Controlling the school’s finances and planning budget
  3. Monitoring the progress of pupils and teachers
  4. Creating a positive work environment with academic motivation, pastoral support, and sufficient discipline

Is there a headteacher qualification?

The UK’s most significant formal headteacher qualification, the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH), was declared non-mandatory in 2012. At the current time, the only formal certification a headteacher needs is their qualified teacher status (QTS).

Since the NPQH became non-mandatory, the training necessary for the role of headteacher has by necessity become much more flexible and tailored to the individual.

The most formal current headteacher ‘qualification’ is simply experience. The majority of headteachers are deputy heads of several years’ standing.

Ascending to the position of headteacher in a school in which you have previously worked as deputy gives you invaluable experience. As the role of deputy head involves mediating between the staff and the headteacher, you will already understand the inner workings of your school.

If you are entering a school for the first time in the position of headteacher however, you will have no understanding of the specificities of the environment. In this case, on-the-job training and preparation are essential.

What does a headteacher do to train for the role?

Despite no longer being a prerequisite, the NPQH still has value and has been described by headteacher Nichola Smith as ‘beneficial in partnership with other training’. Nevertheless it can be hard for budding headteachers to know how to prepare for the role.

James Toop, chief executive of Ambition School Leadership (ASL), discusses a recent survey in which almost 40% of headteachers described shadowing their former boss as a key form of training. He describes ‘mentoring from an experienced head, placements and job shadowing… (as)… great accelerators’.

Indeed, shadowing on the whole is highly advisable in a teaching environment. A headteacher to be must have a good repository of knowledge regarding all areas of their school and once hired they can use the time prior to taking over the role in order to familiarise themselves with its everyday workings.

Jill Berry, a headteacher of ten years’ standing, advises future headteachers to maximise the opportunities afforded by a long transition period in order to gain valuable experience that will prove beneficial in the role.

Another vital skill for headteachers is a good understanding of finance. In modern-day education in which school budgets are increasingly restricted, it is vital that a headteacher knows how to manage the school’s finances

However, it it must be acknowledged that there are aspects of the role, such as passion and vision, for which an aspiring headteacher cannot train. If you possess these innate qualities, you are already well on your way to becoming a successful headteacher.


What makes an outstanding lesson?

How does OFSTED define an outstanding lesson?

OFSTED defines an outstanding lesson as one in which pupils are:

  1. Inspired, engaged and motivated
  2. Challenged
  3. Making progress
  4. Keen to contribute to the lesson, asking relevant questions and debating the topic with enthusiasm
  5. Interacting productively with each other as well as the teacher
  6. Able to explain what they are doing and why
  7. Proud of their achievements during the lesson

The OFSTED definition also states, in an outstanding lesson, teachers will be:

  1. Experts in their subject
  2. Involving every one of their students in the learning process
  3. Setting imaginative tasks that challenge and inspire pupils
  4. Utilising a wide range of approaches and learning resources in order to target different pupils with different abilities and learning styles
  5. Facilitating independent learning and pupil evaluation
  6. Checking progress towards objectives in a non-disruptive way

In order to be classed as outstanding, teachers also have to comply with guidelines such as:

  1. Recapping the previous lesson at the start
  2. Providing clear lesson objectives which are revisited and revised during the lesson
  3. Explaining information clearly using appropriate language
  4. Providing feedback on the progress of their pupils

Enthusiasm is outstanding

Any OFSTED inspector will tell you that there is no exact recipe for an outstanding lesson; they simply know one when they see it. The one vital ingredient is enthusiasm – from both from pupils and from teachers – whose body language speaks volumes about how engaged they are.

Chief inspector of OFSTED Amanda Spielman has spoken out against the single-minded focus on exam results at the expense of a rounded, enjoyable education. An outstanding lesson is no longer measured by academic success only, but by the engagement of its pupils. As a result many teachers are turning from the traditional classroom methods in favour of more progressive learning methods, such as flipped lessons.

What is a flipped lesson?

A flipped lesson mimics the university learning model, in which students learn about a topic (by means of reading, online lectures or other research) prior to a class. The lesson itself takes the form of a collaborative discussion and/or activity learning, promoting a personalised learner-centred instruction model.

Flipped lessons are by no means the only method by which a teacher can create a engaged and enthusiastic classroom environment, but the success of the flipped classroom illustrates the need to combine a variety of teaching methods, beyond the classic lesson model. Prioritise your pupils’ passion for the subject equally with results and think outside the box for an outstanding OFSTED result.

How can I make my lessons OFSTED-friendly?

Establishing tasks that fulfil OFSTED’s objectives for an outstanding lesson and rehearsing them with your class is a good way to create a dynamic learning environment without needing to take risks during the inspection itself.

Getting your classes used to high risk tasks so that they become routine will go a long way towards reducing OFSTED stress as you have prepared everything beforehand.

Easy ways to incorporate OFSTED objectives into your classroom routine include:

  1. Standing at the door as your pupils enter the classroom, greeting each one and talking briefly about your objectives for the day. Don’t wait for your whole class to come in and settle down. Start preparing each pupil for learning as soon as they arrive
  2. Showing that children leave your class with questions and ideas. During the lesson, ask your pupils to write any questions or ideas you want them to take away on stickers and as they leave, take the stickers with them
  3. Standing at the door at the end of a lesson and asking each pupil to relate something they learned and how it corresponds to one of the lesson objectives before bidding them goodbye.


Secrets to getting the best from your supply teaching
Secrets to getting the best from your supply teaching

Psssst! These are our sacred secrets to getting the best from your supply teaching.

Pre-bookings vs early morning calls – There are two types of work when you’re a supply teacher, pre-booked and non-pre booked. Pre-booked supply work means you’ll be aware of the school you’ll be going to before you go, which gives you time to get up in the morning prepared and get on your way ahead of schedule. Non-pre booked work is what it says on the tin – you’ll essentially be on call to save a school that needs help that day or week! Not up for a call at 7.30am? Make sure you tell your agency what time you want to receive calls from – if you’re not on a pre-booked day but you’ve let your agency know you’re available that day, be prepared to answer the phone early!

Give it your all – This goes without saying but giving it your all on assignment is really important. Turn up on time, turn up looking sharp and turn up with a smile on your face. An enthusiastic supply teacher gets rebooked which in turn gives you consistency in your work. Win-win.

Take work with you – In some cases, your work will be planned for you, in others, it won’t. It’s best to plan for the latter, just in case – let’s be honest, games only get you so far when you’re teaching. Think on your feet if lessons go off task, a great supply teacher is able to complete lessons on time and feedback to the classroom teacher of achievements and objectives hit by their students.

Enter the staff room – Don’t think because you’re a supply teacher that you aren’t part of the staff at a particular school – relief staff play just as important a role in a school as everyone else as they keep students on track. Spending time with the staff is important to building relationships, which makes going back to a school a positive experience and not a daunting one.

Feedback – Feedback might be your worst nightmare, but really it should be your best friend. Feedback allows you to receive praise as well as understanding where you need to improve. Supply teaching gives you the opportunity to gain continuous feedback from different headteachers and school managers, which can put you in great stead to finding more work.

Find the loos! – The best piece of advice for someone going to a new school for a supply day is to find the toilets – don’t get caught short.

Impressions – First date dos and don’ts apply when you go into a school for the first time, look sharp, smile, be friendly – it’s the trifecta of ensuring a successful day at a new school.

Teach beyond your subject – Teaching beyond your subject is a great way to not only expand your knowledge base, it ensures you get more work and shows your experience.

Think you’re the perfect teacher? Think again!

Think you’re the perfect teacher? Think again!

Now don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re not perfect. No one is! Perfection is something we all strive to achieve in one way or another. Whether it’s hitting the gym to trim up for summer, learning a new hobby to expand your mind or having a big social following online, we all do something to improve ourselves every day.

But have you thought about perfection in teaching? Would you consider yourself ‘the perfect teacher’? The perfect teacher would probably get all of their student marking returned within a few days, keep a lovely and fresh-looking tidy classroom, and wouldn’t spend their entire weekend in pyjamas planning lessons and marking. Hmmmm.


Now there’s nothing wrong with admitting that you need a little help sometimes. Have you noticed your struggling to engage disengaged students in your class? Or are you spending too much time focusing on those students instead of the whole class? We’ve got a free class on “Engaging the Disengaged Student” that can help you identify the best ways to go about this while keeping a balance in your classroom. Are you finding yourself worrying about lesson observations or parents evenings? Guess what? We have a free class on how to prepare for both! Do you find utilizing data difficult when predicting grades for students in your classroom? That’s okay, lots of people do – that’s why we created a free class which covers “understanding predicted grades”.


Our approach to support starts with a free career planning session, no matter your location or experience. This allows us to not only get to know your strengths but to get to know your weaknesses too. Quality recruitment begins with understanding unique needs and helping people when possible. We value feedback from our schools greatly, it’s a tool we use to identify when a teacher might need a little extra help upskilling in something. Happy teacher > happy school.

Continued Professional Development

We help our teachers by running Continued Professional Development classes. Our CPD is an ongoing program which covers all sorts of gains. We’ve got 26 events coming up over the next term. There’s something for every teacher, in every sector.

26 ways to sort your professional development
26 ways to sort your professional development

We help our teachers across the world by running CPD courses in Australia, Ireland, Canada for teachers considering moving here and for ALL of our teachers in the UK we have an ongoing program covering all sorts of gains.

Here is twenty-six of our upcoming courses:

1. Free CPD Class: Raising Achievement for ASD

2. Free CPD Class: Behaviour Management Strategies for Primary

3. Free CPD Class: Early Years- Play Based Learning

4. Free CPD Class: Using Phonics to Support Early Literacy

5. Free CPD Class: New Phonics changes

6. Free CPD Class: Embedding Numeracy across the curriculum

7. Free CPD Class: Embedding literacy across the curriculum

8. Free CPD Class: Maths intro session (AQ)

9. Free CPD Class: Engaging the disengaged student

10. Free CPD Class: How to prepare for a lesson observation

11. Free CPD Class: Extracurricular activities in school

12. Free CPD Class: Marking tips from veteran teachers

13. Free CPD Class: Effectively integrating technology

14. Free CPD Class: New and better ways to use technology

15. Free CPD Class: Understanding Predicted Grades (How to utilize the data)

16. Free CPD Class: Managing Behaviour: Conflict Resolution in the Classroom

17. Free CPD Class: Meaningful Practical Assessments

18. Free CPD Class: Teaching Outstanding Lessons

19. Free CPD Class: Safeguarding: Your Responsibilities

20. Free CPD Class: Preparing for Parents Evening

21. Free CPD Class: Supply Teacher Resources

22. Free CPD Class: Supporting mental health in the classroom

23. Free CPD Class: Progressing my career

24. Free CPD Class: Sponsorship: What you need to know

25. Free CPD Class: Integrating into a new school

26. Free CPD Class: Understanding the structure of UK Schools

It is your career, your choices, we just load you up with whatever you need to help yours on your journey.

Our CPD classes are free for our teachers. If you want to discuss how we could be helping you then just click below and we can have a chat.

How to be a star supply teacher

How to be a star supply teacher

There are two ways to get supply work, pre-booking with your agency or letting them know you’re available and waiting for a call. Here are our top tips being the best supply teacher you can be so you get the best exposure.

Choosing your agency

If you decide to start supply teaching, don’t register with loads of agencies – it’ll only end up creating more work for yourself submitting timesheets and letting everyone know you’re available for work and dealing with multiple companies calling you each morning.

Do your research, every agency offers different things – we offer loads of perks, from free CPD every month to life support to help you transition into a new role.

The early bird catches the worm

As a supply teacher, if you haven’t pre-booked work for a week, but you’ve let your agency know you’re available for work, it’s best to be up and ready to rock bright and early – just in case. We might call at 7.15 or 8am with a booking that we want you to go to, and the quicker you’re on site getting the class ready the better!

First impressions

When you arrive at a daily supply booking, make sure you introduce yourself to staff – it will make you stick in their minds. You can use these interactions to find out about the class you’re teaching as well as the rules for behaviour in the school and get your timetable.

Request schools you like

If you find yourself really enjoying work at a particular school for a day, request it again! Your agency is on hand to respect what you’re looking for from your work, so if they know you enjoyed it, they’ll try to get you booked in there again.

Be passionate

Passion goes a long way – remember why you do supply. You keep children on track and keep their days consistent so they can keep learning.

Work hard

This goes for pretty much every job you could ever have in any industry, but it’s particularly important for teaching and supply teaching. You’ve got to plan lessons, mark students work, sometimes attend meetings, keep your classrooms clean and tidy and have great communication skills.

Supply teaching; is it fulfilling?

Supply teaching; is it fulfilling?

Do you have children but want a flexible and rewarding job to fill your spare time? Are you an actor looking for extra money? Are you studying and want to dip your toe in education? Supply teaching is very fulfilling and might just be what you’re looking for.

Supply teaching is a really flexible alternative to working full time, whether that’s in teaching or another sector.

So, why do schools use supply teachers? There are a number of reasons as to why schools need supply teachers; whether one of their full-time teachers is in training, maternity/paternity leave or isn’t well enough to come to school. Supply teachers are really important because they minimise disruption to pupils and their education; i.e. they don’t fall behind on their work and progression through the curriculum.

What would I have to do as a supply teacher? The first thing to note is the flexibility in your work schedule, you can work as little or often as you like. Once you’re booked to a school, your job is to deliver the lesson plans provided to you by the regular class teacher to the students in an engaging way. You can use communication and planning skills to do this well, and it goes without saying that the more you teach supply, the more confident you’ll get.

If you think you need to brush up on specific aspects of your skillset, you can attend free CPD courses that we offer. For example, if you went to a school on a supply assignment but didn’t receive great feedback, we can help. We offer courses on behaviour management to brush up your knowledge and help you learn new and effective strategies.

If you work a full school day, you’ll get paid a daily rate, but if you only complete a few hours at a school, for example, if a teacher was at training, then you’d receive an hourly rate. A full day could be 5.5 hours of teaching, with an hour either side for marking/tidying etc.

Shorter working days are why supply teaching is such a great way to ease your way back into the sector. There’s less obligation to fulfil a full-time teachers duties, which leaves you with a great work/life balance and a career in your hands.

Ease yourself back in with daily supply

Ease yourself back into teaching

If you’ve taken some time away from full-time teaching but you’re feeling ready to dip your toe back in the water, you should consider daily supply. Not only does daily supply give you full control and flexibility, it’s a great way to balance your time if you have other commitments.

The beauty of daily supply is that you can work as much or as little as you like – which makes it the perfect option for people that are studying, have children or work part-time elsewhere.

Daily supply works like this: you let your agency know when you’re available to work each week and wait for a call on those mornings for your assignments for the day. It’s as simple as that. The difference between daily supply and being on a supply contract means you’re not always guaranteed work. This is something to consider if you need financial stability each month. As long as you’re keen, make yourself available, work hard and receive good feedback, you’ll ensure your agency will rebook you for more supply work.

As with all jobs, there are a number of ways to make things easier for yourself. With supply teaching, being prepared is key. Make sure you take stationery, emergency lesson plans, icebreakers and time fillers with you. It’s also great to have your own set of classroom rules and behaviour management plans in your head just in case.

How do I get going?

Every agency asks has different ways to get you ready for work. You’ll have to submit a number of documents and have them checked before you can work, so it’s best to get this process done as quickly as you can. Our Compliance team are will help you through this process to make sure you can get stuck in as soon as possible.

Once you’re ready to work, you can let us know when you want to work each week – we have a handy online calendar booking system that you can do this on. Once you’ve completed a day of supply work, you’ll need to submit a timesheet which the school will approve in order for you to get paid.

It’s all simple enough, but don’t worry, we’re only ever a phone call away to assist you however you may need.

Get stuck in, not stuck!

SGP: Get stuck in, not stuck!

Have you finished your teacher training? Are you unsure where to start? Do you want to try a few schools out before you choose one? Supply teaching in the answer to all of these questions. Our Secure Guarantee Pay scheme means you’ll get paid each and every week and teach in a variety of schools near where you live. We’ll give you a call each morning with your daily assignment, it could be where you taught the day before, or it could be somewhere you’ve never stepped foot in. Every day is different, that’s all part of the fun.

Try before you buy!

The best part of teaching supply on our SGP scheme is that you can try out supply teaching at a range of schools before you decide to teach at one on a longer-term basis. The more schools you teach in, the more you’ll begin to understand what you need from your next school, i.e. a nice staffroom, great senior leadership or somewhere that supports you from day one.

Earn as you learn

Working with us means you can earn as you learn. We hold professional development sessions each month which are fully accredited and can give you an edge when deciding where to take your career. Use our free sessions to enhance your offering as a supply teacher or delve deeper into other areas of the education sector. You never know where it could lead you.

Variety is the spice of life

You know what they say, variety is the spice of life. If you’re up for a challenge and want to do something different each day, SGP is for you! All you need to do is be ready to rock at 7am – we’ll give you a call to let you know where your day will take you. Whether you sign up for it to find your perfect school or for a term of teaching in different places, it’s the best tool for you.

Relocation, relocation, relocation

Whether you’re moving abroad to England or moving from a different part of the UK, SGP is a great option for you. We’ll help you relocate and find other teachers that live near you too. Relocating can be daunting, but we pride ourselves in how we support our teachers with relocation. We’ve been doing it for eight years and it’s what we’re best at.

From SGP to…

From SGP to…

So you’ve been teaching supply on our Secure Guarantee Pay scheme for a few months now. You’ve taught at 13 different schools in your area. You know what you like and what you don’t. So what’s next?

What are my options?

You’ve always got options when you work with us and as an SGP teacher, you have loads! The first is renewing your SGP contract, either in the same area or somewhere new, for example in a different part of town.

If you’ve enjoyed SGP but you think you’re ready to find a school that you could teach in on a longer-term basis, then find a long-term contract might be what you need. We’ll be able to help you find schools that are recruiting and get you set up to interview! Longer term contracts can range from anything from six weeks to a whole school year.

Permanent opportunities

If you’ve enjoyed teaching in England so much and you’d like to stay here indefinitely, then you could look for Sponsorship opportunities if your visa is running out. Sponsorship means a school would sponsor you to stay in the UK and teach here indefinitely – you’d become an employee of them directly. We can help you figure out whether this is right for you.

Don’t need sponsorship?

We can help you find a permanent role in a school, too. Explore other sectors Why not embark on a new challenge and work in a different sector. Special Education is extremely rewarding and has a range of benefits. Our Special Education team are on hand to help you get into Special Education as an LSA, SENCO, or Special Education teacher.

Daily Supply

There are other ways to teach supply without being signed up to a contract. Daily supply means you let us know each week when you’re available to teach and we find you the supply work on those days – it’s as simple as that. This is a great option for people that might be looking for something more part-time or flexible as you choose when you work. Whatever you’re looking for, we’re on hand to support you with your choices and ambitions.