The job of careers leader in schools today involves more than simply co-ordinating a programme of activities and networking with a range of external partners. Those remain important parts of the work but the role also involves:
· preparing and implementing a careers strategy for the school;
· planning and quality assuring the programme;
· managing the delivery across the school.
These are leadership and management tasks. Leading means setting out the vision and getting people to follow that vision; managing means working with people to make sure that all the elements happen correctly and at the right time.
Careers leaders combine the roles of leader and manager. In recent years schools have adopted the language of leadership, using such titles as senior leaders, subject leaders and pastoral leaders. The job of careers leader is at least a middle leadership role and in many schools it is a senior leadership position. If careers leaders are to be enabled to fulfil their responsibilities effectively they need to be positioned appropriately within the leadership and management structures of the school.
In practice this means:
· firstly, that the careers leader should have regularly timetabled one-to-one planning and review meetings with a nominated member of the senior leadership team, or be a member of that team;
· secondly, the careers leaders should attend middle leadership meetings so that they are able to work with heads of subject departments and leaders of tutor teams;
· thirdly, careers leaders should be included in all relevant school-based CPD.
These principles apply equally to careers leaders who are qualified teachers and to those from a different professional background, such as qualified careers adviser, teaching assistant or HR manager. The job they have been given is the same and they need to be positioned appropriately to undertake it successfully.
This brings us to the issue of pay. The guiding principle here is that the job of careers leader is a post of responsibility and should be assigned a salary level commensurate with that responsibility.
Many careers leaders are middle leaders with QTS and, as such, should be paid on the main teacher pay scale plus a Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR). It is unlikely that this will be the highest level of TLR as careers leaders rarely line manage a significant number of people. However, careers leaders are responsible for planning and monitoring teaching and learning activities beyond their own classroom, so qualify for a TLR2.
Careers leaders who are not teachers should be paid an equivalent salary, i.e. the main salary grade for the other part of their work plus an allowance equivalent to the TLR2. They are, after all, doing the same job as someone who happens to be a teacher.
Traditionally schools have seen themselves as having three groups of staff: leaders; teachers; support staff. Careers leaders who are not teachers are not support staff either: they are part of growing number of schools staff with leadership and management roles, but not QTS. The pay structure should reflect their status.
Similar principles should apply to careers leaders who are senior leaders but without QTS. Their salary should be equivalent to that which a teacher with the same role would receive.
Being a careers leader is a professional role and should be paid accordingly.
David Andrews is an independent consultant, a former policy adviser to the CDI and co-author of The Careers Leader Handbook