Parents seek head with a GSOH

Most heads have experience dealing with one or two pushy parents. But candidates applying for the headship of Elmcourt secondary, in south London, will be expected to deal with 200.

Elmcourt, the first state school in the country to be set up and partly run by parents, is advertising the post of headteacher at pound;90,810 a year.

Sophia Yates, project manager for the Parent Promoters Foundation, said: "They're our special children. We want someone who can have a laugh with the kids, is approachable and has a good sense of humour. We want that to be at the heart of the school.

"We want someone who works well with our teenagers and is a listener.

Pastoral care should be the responsibility of every single member of staff."

But she denies that the head will be forced to listen unremittingly to parents' demands. "They won't be dictated to by parents," she said. "We have a lot of skills. But we don't know how to run a school. We're looking for leadership."

For example, parents have decided they would like the 1,100-pupil school to apply for specialist status, but they will allow the head to decide which specialism from a shortlist they will provide.

Ten-year-old Tori Mitchell will be among those starting at the school when it opens. "I'd like a headteacher to be kind, but not too kind," she said.

"They'll be like a teacher, but also a sort of friend. If parents choose a head, they'll make sure they're nice, and don't give out too many detentions."

Elmcourt was set up by a parents who feared that their children would not get places in local schools - a particular concern for Lambeth parents in recent years.

Sustained campaigning by families also led to the opening of the Lambeth academy in 2004, and the Charter school in neighbouring Southwark, in 2000.

The Elmcourt will be non-selective, but with a particularly small catchment area. Parents hope that this will help foster a sense of community. The closing date for applications is February 3.

Details 020 7926 9877 or

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