Headteachers have been amongst prominent figures in education being recognised for their services to education. But what makes an outstanding head?
School leaders honoured this year included a headteacher from a junior school in Surrey, an executive head from a federation of schools in London and author Anthony Seldon, the head of Wellington College.
Meanwhile, Eton College, where David Cameron and no less than 18 Prime Ministers were pupils, has appointed a new headmaster who’s just 38 years old. An article in the Telegraph describes his appointment as ‘thought-provoking’.
Traditionally, the article claims, heads of leading schools needed the qualities of gravitas, impressiveness, dignity, oratory, sobriety and vision – but are these now out of date? Parents nowadays may want their heads to have good presentation skills, to be seen cheering on school teams and to be welcoming to parents.
In the state sector an increasing number of heads are being dismissed or forced out because of their school’s performance, the Guardian reports. ASCL represented 140 members last autumn term who had been ousted: “When a school goes into special measures heads are, more often than not, dismissed these days,” general secretary Brian Lightman said. “These people are not incompetent. There can be any number of reasons why a school is struggling. But a lot of heads resign because they know what is coming if they don’t.” As a result of this ‘culture of blame’ fewer candidates are seeking promotion, ASCL claims.
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What, in your experience, makes an outstanding headteacher? Is headship your career aim or are you put off by the pressures they face?