Bullied or bull-headed?

26th September 2003 at 01:00
It is true that headteachers may on appointment be faced with awkward or even obstructive staff. However to appropriate the term "bullied," as Colin Campbell does (TESS, last week), smacks of self-pity whilst detracting from the genuinely powerless within our schools.

In my experience the headteacher who fails to win the confidence of his staff is more likely to be bull-headed rather than bullied. He arrives with a raft of "innovations" which, coincidentally, are exactly those being promoted at that very moment by our educational establishment.

There then follows a procrustean effort to impose those upon his particular school with varying degrees of success. Where the headteacher's first loyalty is to his reforms rather than his staff and pupils then problems are likely, and of his own making.

Teachers are not dupes lining up behind disaffected deputes, especially when the rallying cry amounts to nothing more than a sense of injured merit. Nor are they resistant to change. They are, however, reluctant to see their professional judgment brushed aside in the name of permanent revolution.

This tension between incoming headteacher and established staff will continue until a less than revolutionary concept is grasped: that staff should meet, question and have their collective view on candidates for headteachers' posts taken into account before an appointment is confirmed.

Ewan Chalmers

Balgeddie Gardens, Glenrothes

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today