Leaders empower, rulers take power

School leadership wasn't always thus. We asked a few teachers about their experiences of headteachers.

"I've worked with some lunatics in my time, total control freaks, who scream at you during staff meetings or in front of other staff, or tear up bits of paper in front of you.

Some listen to parents and upbraid you before listening to the other side of the story.

Some of them have poor time management, letting meetings run well past their sell-by date.

God protect me from the headteacher who reads the latest bit of research and bases umpteen school policies on it.

There used to be death by memo, now it's death by e-mail."

"We had a complete bastard. We used to call him the brothel creeper because he would creep up behind you. He used to target vulnerable people - if someone was pregnant, for example - because he was evil.

But there was another head who was a gymnast. He used to do a complete backflip at assembly just to attract the kids' attention. It was a great way to calm a room of 300 kids and they loved him."

"Heads? They tend to be egotistical. Nowadays, their whole perception has taken them away from the classroom. All they are now are yes-men to the local authority."

"Our head was given pound;1.5 million to spend on new technology and spent it with largesse. Four years later the auditors caught up with him and hauled him over the coals. He came to a staff meeting and said: 'I just told them I'm a history teacher and I don't know anything about effin money'."

"Heads are unaware of what is going on on a daily basis. They are detached from real classroom situations and the daily grind of children's behaviour."

"Often headteachers listen to your worries and fears, yet say: 'Well, we know, it's unrealistic.' But that doesn't help the teachers who are complaining of overload, particularly in primary."

"Teachers teach. Children learn. Headteachers?"

"My present head treats you as an equal, respecting your feelings and using a low voice. He has good interpersonal skills and if he's busy is able to so say so with humour."

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