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

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