Book: How to be an Outstanding Primary Middle Leader by @ZoeParamour via @BloomsburyEd

Published by Bloomsbury Education

How to be an Outstanding Primary Middle Leader








Practical Ideas





  • Accessible and informative.
  • Based on real experiences and not just theory.
  • Practical suggestions that can be implemented.
  • Easy to navigate when looking for a particular topic.
  • Zoë’s writing style is chatty but very informative and draws heavily on her own experiences which made it much more relatable.

When Zoë’s book came up for review I put my hand up to read it straight away. I currently work as a Primary Middle Leader (Literacy Lead and EYFSCoordinator) in a larger than average primary school in the North of England. In the last two years, we have undergone a lot of changes, both internal due to staffing and curriculum and changes and external as we have become part of the largest MAT in the city. This has meant an increase in responsibility and accountability, not only for myself but other middle leaders who I have had the chance to meet with.

In my experience, middle leaders have historically always occupied a somewhat awkward position between the SLT and the ‘staff on the ground’. Having to tread the fine line between pleasing the SLT and passing ‘on key’ messages to the rest of the staff. Hopefully, things are beginning to change and more and more, middle leaders are becoming part of the driving force behind change in schools. I consider myself to be in a very lucky position. The school where I work is always open to new ideas and ways to improve and SLT are happy for staff to experiment in their teaching styles or practices if they can explain the rationale behind it. However, there still has to be some consistency across the school in terms of expectations and how things fit into the school vision.

Currently, I feel my role as a middle leader is to support staff in being brave in trying new things but also to monitor and ensure that we are doing things for the right reasons. This is a fine line to tread and over the last few months, I have attended 4 or 5 CPD sessions on leadership and what it means to be a ‘leader’. It got to the point where I had so many notes and handouts on theories behind what makes a good leader that I didn’t really know where to begin when I started to think about what my leadership roles entailed and what I wanted to achieve from them.

Step in Zoë’s book…

When I read the title and the blurb I knew straight away that it was going to be a much more accessible read that previous materials I had been given. Zoë’s writing style is chatty but very informative and draws heavily on her own experiences which made it much more relateable. In the introduction she states, ’This book can be dipped in and out of as and when you need it.’Perfect!

As I was reviewing the book I did in fact read it cover to cover over the course of several evenings (due to a particularly busy spell at work and 2 young children at home) but had time and work commitments allowed, it could have easily been read in a much shorter timescale.

Zoë’s book covers all the aspects of being a middle leader you can think of, as well as a lovely chapter entitled ‘Avoiding Burnout.’ As I am already employed as a middle leader, I wasn’t sure how relevant the first chapter on choosing a school was going to be. However, after reading it, it has given me a different perspective on how I will approach the interview process for a new member of staff that I will be helping to appoint in the next couple of weeks. I’m sure, also, that when the time comes for me to move schools, I will be referring back to this chapter to help me.

The chapters on the day to day aspects of middle leadership(Monitoring, Communicating with your team, Difficult conversations to name my three favourites) were also packed full of useful information, advice and anecdotes. Communicating with your team resonated with me particularly as we have recently done lots of work on how to communicate better with both pupils and adults within school and this chapter summed up a lot of the things we have talked about in a concise and easy to refer to way.

I also really enjoyed the chapter Avoiding Burnout as I strongly believe that happy and content staff make a much more motivated and efficient workforce. I will definitely be taking some of her advice on board.

After reading the book I know it will be a permanent fixture on my desk in my office as I try to be a better middle leader. It provides both a wealth of information and a good supply of tips and anecdotes to support middle leaders in almost any situation they can expect to find themselves in.

A very enjoyable and informative read. Zoë has gained herself a new follower!

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About Emma Strickland 2 Articles
Current EYFS lead with responsibilities for Literacy and soon to be Pupil Premium lead

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