The introduction of the National Standards for Subject Leaders (NSFSL) (TTA 1998) was the first time that recognition at national level had been given to the role performed by many middle managers in schools. Indeed, the draft standards, published one year before, gave greater credence to the concept of distributed leadership (Gunther 2001) in education. Until that point in time, the majority of studies in education leadership had focused on the role of Headteachers following the introduction of the National Professional Qualification for Headteachers (NPQH), the Leadership Programme for Serving Headteachers (LPSH) and the Headteachers’ Leadership and Management Programme (HEADLAMP). The notion of distributed leadership throughout an organisation was not new, but for many schools it provided a novel solution to emerging problems and difficulties. Ofsted inspection reports (Ofsted 1993) were required to include comments on the quality of middle management and note the positive or negative impact of subject leadership. There was then a need for new solutions to new problems, which, we propose, were an inevitable outcome of educational reforms throughout the late 1980s and 1990s.