The ingredients of successful SLT

It’s a really interesting time for our senior team. We are looking to appoint a new Deputy Headteacher to replace the current post-holder who is retiring at the end of this academic year (think you want to apply? Read why you should here.) It is a massive appointment for the SLT and the whole school, and it has given us cause to reflect on what we are looking for and what makes a successful team.

I was so interested in the idea – and in learning from other schools – that I suggested “what are the ingredients of a successful SLT?” as a topic for the excellent #SLTChat on twitter for the 13th January, and was delighted when this happened:

As usual with this superb forum, the ideas came thick and fast. What follows is a selection of the best (IMHO):

There is much here to keep in the forefront of our minds on a day-to-day basis – the function of the SLT – but also for the longer term when making a critical appointment to the SLT – the ingredients.

All of the #SLTchat suggestions were really helpful in framing the discussion for us. I wholeheartedly subscribe Tom Sherrington and Sarah Findlater‘s points about getting the mixture and the balance right, so we needed specifics. What did each of us bring to the table? And what unique skills would our retiring colleague take with him? Helpfully, Keven Bartle had earlier tweeted about an online personality test based on Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’ typological approach to personality which gave a really accurate assessment of me! Our head had also found a chart which matched personality types to distinct leadership styles and roles – summarised in this document: Leadership Styles by Personality Type. This process has given us the framework we needed to begin to evaluate our individual roles within the team, and those to which we’re best suited, allowing us to take the “long hard look in the mirror” which is the cornerstone of all effective self-evaluation.


Footnote: I really liked the idea of SLT as a “magic umbrella” suggested by @sbhsmrwilson. I’d also like to turn it upside down in a suggestion I read in an interview with Teaching Awards winner Elizabeth Hanson (in Teach Secondary magazine – sadly not online!), who has a sieve on her wall.


It was given to her as a present by one of her pupils who told her that she sifted through their work to find the nuggets of inspiration. SLT are like that, in my view, sieving the torrent of change, initiative and innovation to keep the main thing the main thing and sift out the rest.

4 thoughts on “The ingredients of successful SLT

  1. Pingback: Retaining the best teachers | Teaching: Leading Learning

  2. Pingback: Wasted investment? | Teaching: Leading Learning

  3. Interesting piece, this. Primarily, I would say that you need people who are there to work for something beyond themselves. And then to get the staff to also work for something beyond themselves. Then, the work might not only be effective but also be valuable and create something of value. I guess that ‘thing’ might be beauty. Not exam results or disciplined pupils or a better set of data, but to create beauty. Hard to measure I know, but imagine the value people would have and give to each other and to pupils. Schools, society would be transformed. Hope you get the right person. No pressure!

  4. Pingback: What makes great school leadership? | Pragmatic Education

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.