In brief

28th May 2004 at 01:00
Primary Headteacher's Pocketbook

By Bruce Potts

Teachers' Pocketbooks pound;6.99

Successful Subject Co-Ordination

By Christine Farmery

Continuum pound;4.99

If you are looking for a farewell gift for a not-too-bright, socially inept colleague taking up a first headship, the upbeat, practical and confidence-building tone of the Primary Headteacher's Pocketbook may appeal. The well-organised chapters give much attention to developing interpersonal skills, though keeping an eye on teaching and learning has some coverage. The liberal use of bullet points makes for an easy read.

The book is packed with lots of good, commonsense advice for the novice head, though I'm not sure that even the dimmest new headteacher needs to be told to take care of personal appearance or get to know the names of all the staff within a week. What isn't made clear are the limits to positiveness, and the advice "to make sure that every answer is yes" is a real jaw-dropper.

Being reasonable and positive are obviously good characteristics for a head to develop, but there are times when successful heads need the grit to make decisions or hold expectations others find unreasonable. It is hoped that by that time the novice head will have enough trusted contacts among other heads and LEA advisers to pick up the phone rather than consult a book.

Successful Subject Co-ordination is also a pocket-sized school management book. This one is overweight in words and underweight in ideas, with little sense of audience or clear purpose. It misses an opportunity: with teachers' release time to carry out management responsibilities becoming available, there is a need for up-to-date ideas on how the time can be best used. You would be better off reading National Standards for Curriculum Leaders on the Teacher Training Agency website.

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