In a time of huge pressure on staffing, some schools (and school groups/chains) are streets ahead when it comes to what’s on offer for careers. In too many schools, career development is only for teachers and it means less classroom, more management. Staff are increasingly looking at what’s on offer when deciding whether to stay or move. Here’s six features of career-savvy schools and groups.

1. A level playing-field

The happiest staff we meet feel that career development opportunities are fairly distributed – it’s not just for those in favour or those in the know. School leaders ensure that all staff are not only notified of opportunities, but given the experiences and support to prepare themselves.

2. Proactive discussion

In developmental schools, all staff have regular discussions about ‘what next’. This doesn’t mean that there’s pressure to change role, but it does mean that opportunities are constantly discussed. Line managers are given training and tools to have effective conversations and senior leaders keep creating new opportunities to offer.

3. Beyond management

We’re seeing a significant rise in specialist curriculum, pedagogy, research and specialist roles for staff. Some schools see management and pedagogical leadership as distinct, so that one person might take on an organisational and line-management role while another takes on the expert or specialist knowledge role. This is particularly powerful across school clusters such as academy chains or teaching school alliances, where subject specialists can work across schools to develop curriculum, assessment and pedagogy.

4. Beyond teachers

Half of the education workforce are not teachers. The best schools offer career-long development opportunities for teaching assistants, site staff and administrative staff. This could be formal (e.g. offering academic and professional study, such as TAs becoming teachers) or informal (taking on oversight of new responsibilities, leading teams, or advising other schools).

5. Opportunity to study

In many schools, there are annual bursaries to subsidise or even fully pay for further study, whether academic (such as Master’s-level) or professional (such as NPQs or Chartered Teacher). Many schools use such study to link to school and team development goals, asking teacher to link project-work to these goals.

6. Informal roles and networks

Career-savvy schools look well beyond formal opportunities, finding informal opportunities for teachers to shadow other roles, do job swaps and visit peers in other schools. Some create project teams or ‘shadow leadership teams’ where all staff can take one or two year placements to pursue whole school projects and develop their CVs.

These things are easy to write down, but harder to do. We’ve invited some of Britain’s top leaders and thinkers to come together and explain how all schools can develop this better. Join us on Friday 18th May in London for our TDT Career Development Summit: Attracting, Retaining and Developing Staff in Schools and hear from Lucy Crehan, Ann Mroz, Ofsted, the DfE and many top leaders about how your school, trust or alliance can distinguish itself as a career destination.