By Simon Hughes
Optimus Publishing pound;45
Simon Hughes's book contains several things I wish I'd known as a subject leader. As head of English, I had assumed my main job would be ordering textbooks. But even back in 1990, the job was all about people: the staff and the students. This book provides guidance on time management and financial planning, and an interesting discussion of how schools could use their intranets to create powerful information hubs. But it also exemplifies much publishing by ex-teachers aimed at practising teachers.
Part 2 - predictably - provides a theoretical approach, complete with "philosophical approaches to resource management" and an analysis of "complexity theory". If you're reading in the snatched moments of your lunch break, I suggest you stick with part 1.
There's some curiously old-fashioned material on budgets and personnel issues. None of it focuses enough on subject leaders' main purpose: to improve learning and teaching. Everything else they do has to support that aim, unrealistic as it can seem on small budgets and spartan non-contact time. That's where real service could be done in a book like this, helping subject leaders to cope with the extraordinary expectations and level of responsibility their jobs attract. Apart from some useful hints among the dull academic content, this book will leave most subject leaders relying on their own resources, chief of which is probably inner strength.
Geoff Barton is head of Edward VI school, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk