Subject leader role
Anyone who leads the delivery of a curriculum subject is a subject leader. You are a subject leader if you:
- lead a subject area in a primary or secondary school;
- share responsibility between you and others if the subject is divided into different areas and roles - such as assistant, or deputy subject leads, or subject leaders for particular phases;
- work in special settings, as subject leads for areas such as communication and language, cognition, or learning/pastoral support.
Teachers can lead more than one subject. For example, someone may be head of Key Stage 2 and lead Maths. Another teacher may lead a subject area in addition to their role as SENCo. Subject leadership is a supplementary role and so requires additional payment and non-contact time to existing responsibilities.
For all subject leaders, their role is additional to that of a classroom teacher, because they oversee and lead the subject’s delivery across the school, federation, or MAT. This means they have duties additional to their existing classroom and leadership roles.
The additional duties include but is not limited to:
- Ensuring consistency of subject teaching, including through observations and ‘book looks’.
- Curriculum sequencing and mapping.
- Meeting with Ofsted inspectors about their subject.
- Supporting planning, team-teaching, and delivering CPD.
- Attending subject network meetings.
- Organising subject events e.g., subject days, weeks, and assemblies.
Example of positive case study
Sophie leads Art alongside teaching a Year 3 class full-time. She is given 1.5 hours of non-contact time each week in addition to her PPA and TLR 2a. Sophie has discretion on how to best use her time, and feels able to observe colleagues, sequence the curriculum, and order resources as necessary.
Example of problematic practice
Michelle has been a head of year at her school for over three years. She is on the Main Pay Range and receives TLR 2a for her year lead work. At the start of the school year, the History lead post remains unfulfilled. Michelle’s head asks her to lead History and explains that as Michelle receives a TLR and non-contact time already, she is not entitled to additional pay or non-contact time.
There may be other co-ordinator or specific roles that are not linked to a subject, such as mental health/wellbeing, SENCOs, and Forest School leads.
Do: Teachers who are expected to lead and carry out tasks in addition to their classroom post should receive additional payment and non-contact time.
Don’t: Except in exceptional circumstances, with the express agreement of the Early Career Teacher (ECT), ECTs should not be asked to become subject leaders. Schools should focus on supporting early career teachers, and their successful development, rather than expecting additional workload.