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Keep thee out of the monastery

What a sad state of affairs that in 2004 apparently one in three female heads chooses to live alone in order to best cope with the demands of the job (TES, Friday magazine, October 8). Prior to headship, I worked with a head in the single mould described in the article and learned some important lessons for headship regardless of gender.

On a personal level, long hours focused on the job do not help maintain a well-rounded personality and a good model for school leadership. Most schools would profess to aim to develop children as well-rounded people well able to play a positive role in society. What an irony if the lead learner is the antithesis of this.

At school level, there is the danger that the head expects the same level of commitment from the staff that they display. This is often implicit rather than stated, but over time it breeds resentment, dissatisfaction and alienation among staff willing to give a honest day's work.

Heads who choose an almost monastic devotion to their job tread a dangerous path for their own well-being and that of their school. Wouldn't it be better if they devoted just a little of their undoubted energy and drive to campaigning to keep the job manageable, their lives balanced and society generally sane?

Mark Alston Head, Holme on Spalding Moor primary school East Riding of Yorkshire

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