5 steps for climbing the career ladder

We naturally strive to improve and be the best we possibly can be. For a teacher, it may be to be the best in the classroom or possibly strive to secure a leadership role. Here we look at 5 simple steps to help progress your educational career.

Andy Goodeve Andy Goodeve
Rebecca Howitt Rebecca Howitt
April 2022
Step 1 - Perspective - ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’

Everyone is unique and therefore life and careers don’t follow a predefined pathway. There will be successes, but also stumbling blocks, the obstacles, that slow you down and maybe cause you to re-evaluate and change your path. The secret to ensuring success is to never take your eyes off your end goal, the reason for joining the profession - to make a positive difference in the lives of young people. 

Those who are successful have strong ‘foundations’, are educational setting centric, have a strong moral compass and genuinely wish to enrich the lives of young people. Ambition is healthy, but it must be due to a genuine passion for education and not the attraction of a job title or salary.

Step 2 - Outline Your Credentials - ‘I am ready’’

Developing yourself professionally is key to career progression. Look for opportunities to ‘build solid career foundations’ and acquire the necessary experience to help you on your journey.  Embrace opportunities for collaboration, mentoring and coaching to develop yourself professionally. Training in skills and techniques, opportunities to visit/work in different settings and leading on different projects is great preparation. Professional qualifications ( for example, NPQLT, NPQSl, and NPQH,) have helped to give guidance to those aspiring to progress through their career. Nevertheless, nothing is better preparation than experience and the ability to handle any situation. 

Values must not be overlooked. Adopt the mindset of treating others how you would like to be treated yourself. You will never be a success with all however, you can always strive for improvement and be aspirational to others who will value this mindset and value your credentials.

Step 3 - Embrace educational setting diversity - ‘I know the way forward’

A big attraction of working within an educational setting is the vast diversity that exists in the environment. This is evident in the vast array of academia, culture, sport and art. Being adaptable and versatile is essential for leaders as you are required to be a good all-rounder who accepts responsibility. In decision making, listening to the varied views in a staff room can seem time-consuming, however, it is thoroughly recommended. Leaders cannot be dismissive of staff members' views and opinions and must take these onboard prior to making decisions. Every interaction with staff helps you become more experienced and prepares you for future decisions. An honest approach with colleagues means you must make decisions and explain why you have made them. Always get back to staff and build your reputation as someone who cares immensely about all aspects of educational setting life.

In climbing the ladder, an appreciation of the different areas of your educational setting, other than teaching, is strongly recommended. Understanding the finances of the budget may not be your particular area of expertise, but there is considerable pressure to balance the books. Aspiring Heads are encouraged to spend time shadowing their Business Manager to gather experience in budget planning. This can be furthered by volunteering to manage an element of the educational setting budget. This means that you gather responsibility and become accountable. This is something that could set you aside from other candidates during an interview.

Step 4 - Consistently High Expectations - ‘I am too busy to walk around my educational setting’

The very best leaders inspire confidence in both young people and their colleagues. This can be achieved by adhering to high expectations. Punctuality and swiftly following up on all issues is paramount to ensuring the smooth running of an organisation. You must meet deadlines, otherwise, staff will quickly lose respect for you. Ensure that your assemblies, staff meetings and INSET training are well planned and thought-provoking. This will show that you care and that you adhere to high expectations.

Presence is an important characteristic of a senior leader. Avoid spending too much time in front of a computer screen and ensure that you are a regular presence in the corridors. Maintaining a calm and collected persona might sometimes be challenging. However, you must pride yourself on exhibiting these traits. Maintaining a connection with the classroom is strongly advised. This will help you understand the pressure colleagues are under.

Step 5 - Make Staff Development a Priority - ‘We need to make lots of changes’

The role of a senior leader is to provide genuine leadership. This will enable colleagues to feel supported and allow them to display confidence in their role. As a leader, you are responsible for creating an environment for young people to succeed and access their chosen pathways.  A good way to consider the work of a highly effective senior leader is to think like an architect. This profession is characterised by planning, implementation and evaluation. This means that the leader must remain in post long enough to see through the changes that they have made.

Staff are a very expensive resource and their development must be seen as a priority. The appraisal gives an opportunity for you to map out your intentions to gather the whole educational setting experience. However, this must not be to the detriment of the educational setting. Your own personal ambitions must be correlated to the work you are undertaking. This synergy will ensure that staff, students and the whole organisation community will benefit; which is highly desirable. The success of this nature will mean you build a profile that will enable you to further your career and reach the pinnacle.

So how can SchooliP support good leadership?

Here at SchooliP, we are fortunate to meet a wider number of senior leaders. From experience, we find that the very best senior leaders are time efficient and whole educational setting minded. They are still great teachers and have teachers and students at the forefront when making decisions. The ladder to the top involves many late nights and difficult conversations. We pride ourselves on creating software that streamlines processes and saves valuable time which can then be devoted to leadership.

SchooliP helps to empower aspiring senior leaders with the wealth of information needed in order to improve their educational setting. SchooliP is a web-based tool for staff appraisal and professional development, which helps to identify strengths and target key areas of weakness.

The leaders who have opted for SchooliP has a proven robust framework for success.

If you would like to drive improvement and save hours of professional time, please make contact with our sales team.

Are you a customer?
Simply call and ask to speak with your Customer Success Manager to discuss your training needs.
Please remember, all online training is FREE and UNLIMITED.

Not a customer?
What can I do to find out more
Call on +44 (0) 333 0433 450 or e-mail info@derventioeducation.com.


Derventio Education Limited is a company registered in England and Wales.

Company number: 6970437
VAT number: 977856834