The Subject Leader

An introduction to leadership and management

By: Steve Garnett


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Products specifications
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Size: 182mm x 222mm
Pages : 128
ISBN : 9781845907969
Format: Paperback
Published: August 2012

The role of a subject leader is one of the most important in any school, second only to that of the head teacher. Subject leaders are working in the engine room of school life, expected to turn the vision, values and ethos of a school into reality.

However, most teachers went into education because they wanted to be teachers, not leaders, so they often haven’t had any training into how to lead a subject area.

This book seeks to deliver a whole range of practical solutions to the challenges that the role presents. The areas covered range from setting and communicating your vision, delivering high quality learning across all classes and developing rigorous and effective systems of self evaluation to understanding and developing a transformational leadership style.

Hugely accessible and realistic, the book also tackles some of the other critical issues that sometimes face subject leaders. Practical solutions are offered around the issues of working with under-performing colleagues as well as managing the stresses of the role.

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Shortlisted for the Education Resources Awards 2013, Secondary Resource – non-ICT category

Picture for author Steve Garnett

Steve Garnett

Steve Garnett delivers inspirational, practical and highly realistic teaching- and learning-related INSET. He travels extensively around the UK, as well as globally, having delivered training to over 15,000 teachers in over 30 countries, extending to South America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and south-east Asia.


  1. With the changing emphasis in schools and colleges performance management and tracking of progress/achievement this book has many good ideas for subject leaders. I'm sure that many current leaders and those aspiring to the role will find the section on “The Tricky Stuff” very helpful, and considered sending Steve many additional issues arising from my own work in schools and colleges to help others avoid the pitfalls and sometimes “loneliness of the subject leader”.. A well written and concise read for all subject leaders ..... a good investment

  2. Few people enter the teaching profession with the intention of one day becoming a subject leader - it's a natural career progression, of course, but one that can be either extraordinarily rewarding or utterly soul-destroying, depending on how it's handled. This slim and assured volume aims to ensure that anyone who reads it and puts Garnett's advice into practice will be able to take on the role and turn it into one that is both professionally effective and personally fulfilling. The structure is clear and logical, there is an admirable absence of circumlocution, and clever cartoons by Les Evans keep a mechanical theme running that naturally complements the text with a touch of humour. It's a common complaint from newly promoted subject leaders that despite the managerial aspect of the job, leadership training can be sorely lacking; this book is prime, non-patronising CPD material, and well worth an investment.

  3. If you were to set an educational book a challenge perhaps none would be greater than to ask it to be so compelling that it manages to make exciting reading at the very end of the summer term. Steve Garnett has achieved this in The Subject Leader, I read the book on the first weekend of the summer holidays and found myself itching to put some of the ideas into practice. 

    This is a book written with a deep understanding of what the task of a subject leader is and of how it can become the most exciting and fulfilling role in your career. All too often good teachers are promoted into this responsibility and left to fend for themselves; little recognition is given to the new challenges that the job brings and to the new skills that the subject leader needs to do the job really well. The Subject Leader addresses that need beautifully, clarifying the priorities for any subject leader and providing suggestions about how to make that really important thinking a shared vision across the whole team.
    The book is well structured, taking the reader from the fundamentals of context and vision, through the essentials of self evaluation, both for the work of the team and the leader, a very important section on how to make your team the envy of the school and finally a chapter on handling the really difficult issues that can arise in teams. Steve deals with each topic with honesty and sharp focus; there is no room for ambiguity in the methods he suggests for analysing your team and its performance. However the writing is full of emotional intelligence and this makes the challenges acceptable, necessary and easy to respond to. The intriguing mechanical cartoons by Les Evans provide an excellent counterpoint to the text.

    If you are already a subject leader then you will find much to celebrate in this book as you reflect on what you are doing well and what you relish about your job, you will also find yourself challenged and equipped to be better at what you do. If you are just about to embark on this role then this could be the book that makes your new job possible; there are some excellent ideas that will help you to start your team thinking along the right lines from the very first. If you are an aspiring subject leader there is a wealth of experience here that you will find inspiring and that will affirm your choice. From very practical suggestions about how to run team meetings, how to recognise and use the right leadership style and how to manage stress to the more fundamental issues about your own philosophy of education and the emotionally intelligent way to work with a team.

    I think the book deserves to be given a wider audience. I would like it to be required reading for all senior leaders and indeed for all teachers; there is much wisdom and clarity of thinking here; in the current educational landscape we need books like this.
  4. As a primary teacher I came at The Subject Leader wondering whether it was going to be just as applicable to (for example) a KS2 music co-ordinator as the head of a history department in a large secondary school. It is. The Subject Leader contains principles and advice to ensure you focus on the things that matter and just give a cursory nod to the things that don't. If your subject department was run along the lines Steve Garnett sets out, amongst other things your pupil targets would be more meaningful, staff meetings would contain less waffle and your department would be a place both teachers and pupils would want to be. If you put into practice the methodology of The Subject Leader, you can lead effectively as opposed to doing what we so often do -” muddle through.

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