Assistant headteacher: what does the role involve?


Becoming an assistant headteacher might be a position you are interested in.

In large secondary schools there are often more than one assistant headteacher position. Each role will have a specific area of focus, for example, teaching and learning, assessment, reporting and data or a specific Key Stage responsibility.

At Edapt we support many assistant headteachers and senior leaders in England and Wales. You can access high-quality employment advice and support for your role by subscribing today.

To progress to the role of assistant headteacher you might already be a head of department or pastoral leader. You might have also decided to complete a National Professional Qualification in Senior Leadership (NPQSL) to support your application to assistant headteacher.

In this article, we link to job descriptions and person specifications for the role of assistant headteacher which outline the various roles and responsibilities.

Assistant headteacher: job descriptions

The New Wave Federation in Hackney has published a job description for an assistant headteacher position. The role reports to the executive headteacher and the teaching commitment is up to 40%. Key tasks and activities include:

  • Undertaking full responsibility for all matters relating to the school in the absence of the Executive Headteacher
  • Work flexibly in the presence of the Executive Headteacher to assist the smooth day to day management of the school working closely with staff of all designations
  • Teach in classes across the school, demonstrating excellence in professional classroom practice
  • Assist the Executive Headteacher in monitoring and reviewing the quality of teaching and learning including assessment, recording, and reporting pupils’ attainment to all statutory bodies
  • Assist the Executive Headteacher/Headteacher in the whole school self evaluation processes
  • Effectively lead the areas of responsibility developing policy and practice and ensuring effective self evaluation

Leadership and management skills outlined in the person specification include:

  • Ability to support the strategic leadership of the school, contributing to strategic decisions taken by the Executive Headteacher 
  • Ability to effectively delegate responsibilities to others in the school team, to ensure the successful operations of the areas of responsibility 
  • Able to lead by example, be highly driven, motivated and motivate other staff

Candidates are advised that when completing the references section on the application form to ensure that: 

  • Your first referee is your current, or most recent, employer
  • You provide a referee who can attest for your ability to work with children; and, if you do not have an employment referee, please provide details of a tutor, lecturer or someone who can provide an appropriate character reference. Please explain any gaps in your employment/education history and reasons for these gaps, continuing onto an additional page if necessary

We have published another support article about how to request a reference from your school.

Assistant headteacher in teaching and learning

Bishop Stopford School in Northamptonshire has a job description for an assistant headteacher in teaching and learning

It explains, “The assistant headteacher will be responsible to the deputy headteacher and will work alongside SLT in defining, articulating and implementing the shared vision and values of the school through effective communication and engagement with all stakeholders.”

As assistant headteacher for teaching and learning you will:

  • Support with the development of the school’s improvement plan and help devise strategies for development
  • Ensure the accurate monitoring of teaching and learning standards within the school
  • Maintain up-to-date records of teacher standards, CPD undertaken by staff and the impact of training and support programmes on teacher and student performance  
  • Oversee and support with the training and development needs and requirements of all staff  promote career development and opportunities for career progression
  • Ensure that teachers and other staff have high expectations of what students can achieve
  • Ensure that teacher subject knowledge is secure and is updated in line with new curriculum requirements  
  • Ensure that assessment information is used to plan appropriate teaching and learning strategies that enable all students to make good progress and achieve well

Assistant headteacher in assessment, recording and reporting progress

The Telford Priory School in Shropshire has candidate information for an assistant headteacher in assessment, recording and reporting progress. The role reports to the deputy head of student progress. 

The core responsibilities of the role include:

  • Interpretation and analysis of internal and external data, providing summary reports to the head teacher, SLT, staff and governors
  • Working with subject leaders to monitor, review and plan the most effective provision to support pupil progress in light of progress data
  • To lead and manage the data team to facilitate effective data support of all staff
  • To lead and manage all aspects of external and internal examinations
  • Ensure effective assessment structures are in place across all departments that are clearly mapped into the school’s recording and reporting systems
  • Work with subject leaders to ensure effective structures are in place to provide reliable and robust assessment data

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