Be visible, but don't overshadow your team

20th December 2013 at 00:00

Tim Brighouse and David Woods' comments on visibility in leadership ("Show them who's boss", Professional, 1 November) present a rather old-fashioned view of school leadership. The "hero headship" model they espouse assumes that the headteacher must be visible at all times as the key leader in the school. But in the modern era of distributive leadership and continuing professional development, what opportunities would such a model provide for others to develop their leadership skills?

The hero headship model panders to the stereotype of the 1950s headteacher and reinforces it in the minds of parents, students and staff. I would argue that modern-day leadership does require headteachers to have a profile, but not to the extent that it overshadows and excludes other leaders, or comes at the expense of a collegiate approach. From a simple workload perspective, the hero headship model also encourages parents to go to the school leader first, rather than the head of year, head of department or classroom teacher.

Of course, in certain aspects the writers are absolutely right. Driving a school from behind a desk is never going to work: you must be visible. Managed visibility that allows others to flourish in their leadership roles through a distributive and developmental leadership model is the real way forward.

James Lascelles, Headteacher, King Edward VI Grammar School, Louth, Lincolnshire.

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