Thursday, January 18, 2007

Time to get rid of headteachers?

The Government has today published a report that suggest that the schools should consider alternative forms of leadership arrangements apart from the traditional headteacher promoted from the ranks of the teaching staff (BBC report here). Basically schools could be led by a chief executive type figure (in effect a professional manager), with operational control of teaching and the curriculum remaining in the hands of a professionally qualified teacher. Of course the Lib Dems have taken their traditional approach of teachers good, reform bad, and dismissed the idea out of hand.

In my opinion its not a bad idea. We ask headteachers to do an awful lot for which they are neither qualified nor experienced in doing, financial management, relationship management with stakeholders, project management, providing strategic leadership and vision. All these skills are vital for a successful head, especially in these days of greater financial freedom, PFI and extended schools that will be delivering many more services than just teaching kids between 9 & 3.30. These extra responsibilities are often cited as the reason many teachers do not want to become heads. Fair enough lets allow professional teachers to teach and professional managers to manage.

This isn't to say that there aren't teachers who can't make the jump to being effective managers, there are hundreds of dedicated heads up and down the country running brilliant schools proving it is possible. And of course any school chief execs would have to have a strong understanding of and commitment to education, but I don't think that means being a qualified teacher (you can understand something without being able to do it).

So, in conclusion, we shouldn't dismiss the idea out of hand. It might not work everywhere, there may not be many professional managers lining up to run schools, and getting the relationship right between chief exec and teaching staff would be difficult at first; but surely it is worth looking at.

2 Comments:

Blogger Norfolk Blogger said...

I'm sorry, but these comments are terribly ignorant. You said

"We ask headteachers to do an awful lot for which they are neither qualified nor experienced in doing, financial management, relationship management with stakeholders, project management, providing strategic leadership and vision."

Have you seen or heard of the NPQH ? A very demanding course giving a professional qualification for headteachers. It covers all the aspects you highlight.

In the same way as the NHS has become ruined by managers who know nothing of the clinical need of patients, headteachers who have never taught lack any empathy to be able to understand the issues and problems faced by teachers.

9:46 pm  
Blogger Tristan said...

I do sometimes despair of LibDem education policy, it can be very illiberal and is often based on teachers' concerns rather than what would be best for the children (these two things sometimes contradict each other).

For some schools that sort of system may work, and surely as supporters of localism we would encourage experimentation like that.

10:33 am  

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