My perfect job: middle leader management (MLM)


I have seen many different ways of combining what is needed in a school into job specs, but I’ve never seen it done this way. 

I believe that line management and the support and accountable that it holds is possibly one of the most important things in a school. If we all know what our job is then a clear,effective system of line management is the thing that ensures that the things that move a school forward are being done. Unfortunately, in many cases either a school’s system is minimal or where it’s supposed to exist, consistency is poor and quality of meetings is variable, if not non-existent.

The job- middle leader manager (MLM)

One person line manages all middle leaders. They have a timetabled, unmovable, prioritised meeting once a fortnight (possibly more frequent if core).A spare meeting is also timetabled, where the first isn’t possible (bank holiday,illness etc) then the second meeting is assumed. They are never missed or cancelled. These meetings have a fixed starting agenda (no particular order):

  1. Things coming up in the calendar
  2. Monitoring – results from, data, progress etc
  3. Things to take back to SLT/Head
  4. Successes 
  5. Staff updates  incl. wellbeing
  6. CPD
  7. Development plan update
  8. PM update
  9. AOB

The meeting can be anything up to 50 minutes but should be efficient and keep to time. In rare times where more time is needed the second meeting time can be used.

The ML comes to the meeting knowing the agenda, ready with updates and any paperwork needed. 

In the last 10 minutes of the period, the MLM types up the minutes. These are on one live document that the MLM and middle leader share. It is one long record of the dialogue with actions and reflections. 

Whilst the meeting is formal in sharing important developments it is also a coaching and/mentoring role. New middle leaders get the support they need from this person. They can get advice on how they might handle new situations or who they need to go to to resolve an issue. The MLM is the conduit (⬅️been trying to wedge that into a blog for ages).

The MLM feeds back to SLT and/or the Head regularly on a standing agenda item.

Depending on the size of the school the teaching load of the MLM will vary. For meetings and second meetings it will be a lighter than average assistant head timetable. In some schools I would argue that this role could be so important to embed effective systems that the person may not teach at all.

Why this job?

I think this job is unique as it addressing some of the common issues that potentially weaken a school’s progress.

  • It is consistent. Every ML has the same experience
  • It is supportive. The ML can share worries and concerns.
  • It is developmental. The MLM can spot the needs of the ML and can advise 
  • It’s efficient. Everything is done in an hour or less a fortnight.
  • It regulates accountability. Everyone knows where they are and what’s expected. No surprises.
  • It gives a clear overview of where the school is progress in but also where it needs support and development.
  • It inducts new middle leaders. They know what they need to do and have the support that often doesn’t exist.

Potential issues

It totally relies on one person. Where they’re good it’ll be great, if not the system will collapse. They need to be able to balance accountability with support. If the MLs aren’t comfortable then issues will arise. If the person is I’ll or absent for a length of time it will need a plan b.

So, if you want to regulate and ensure that line management is effective, consider this model….then give me a call.

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