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'None of the grown-up stuff of primary headship is worth a dime, if you don’t understand children'

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Being a primary head requires both a cool head and a stern gaze.

You must combine an air of authority, a facility with spreadsheets and a comprehensive knowledge of maths, English, French, the history of Skara Brae and the classification of rocks. An ability to play a musical instrument, teach chess, skydive for the PTA or tame water buffalo would also be a handy bonus. The serious demands of safeguarding must never be dropped and the needs of a growing population must be accommodated.

And, of course, you must also have grasped that elusive quality of being able please all of the people all of the time.

But superhead Dame Alison Peacock points out that there is one thing which is at the core of all of the swirling busy-ness of primary schools – and that thing is play.

In her debut column in last Friday’s TES about spending a lunchtime duty helping reception children hunt for a Gruffalo, she points out that none of the grown-up stuff of being a primary head is worth a dime, if you don’t understand children; If you can’t immerse yourself in their world.

Or as Kipling didn’t say, if you can lose your head while all about you are keeping theirs/then you’ll be a primary headteacher, and a good one at that.

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