Rachel MacFarlane

Putting Staff First

If we do not ensure, first and foremost, that our teachers are happy, healthy, well qualified, highly motivated, hard-working, well-trained experts, they cannot be their best for their students. Consequently, a school which does not prioritise professional learning and managing staff workload which, as a consequence, will help improve staff wellbeing is disadvantaging its own students.

Whilst it is easy to say that schools would not exist if it were not for the students, the glib converse is that without truly great school staff, the students would not be taught well enough. What we need as recruiting subject specialist teachers, school leaders and specialist support staff becomes increasingly difficult is a revolution in how we treat the adults in schools. 

'What is the most important school-related factor in pupil learning? The answer is teachers', say Schwartz et al, and if they are correct, then we have to put our staff first because it is the only hope we have of securing what our students need most: top quality teachers (Schwartz et al, 2007). 

And whilst we are determined to put staff first, that does not mean working in a blueprint school is an easy ride; far from it. We expect teachers to work hard and to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be. 

If high quality teaching is the only thing that really matters when it comes to improving students outcomes, it follows, then, that we expect teachers in blueprint schools to accept the professional obligation to improve their practice; indeed, we consider that to be one of the most important aspects of being a teacher in a blueprint school. 

The leadership wisdom you might find in this book is neither dogmatically based upon educational research evidence nor is it solely derived from our experience; it is a synthesis of both. What is common to everything we propose in our blueprint is that we unapologetically put staff first. 

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a blueprint as an 'early plan or design that explains how something might be achieved'. Ten years after the Academies Act disrupted the structures of the English school system irrevocably, we want to look forward ten years hence, to a revitalised school system where our nation's teachers are thriving and, consequently, so are our students. 

What follows is a 2030 blueprint to revitalise our schools that unashamedly puts staff first.

What do we think?

Great guidance on how to put staff first, including how to create a positive school culture, support professional development, and build effective teams.