Confused by collegiate complexity

19th March 2004 at 00:00
The seemingly contradictory conclusions of the Hay Group's report on the damaging effects of collegiality in schools is due to assumptions made about what constitutes collegiality (TES, March 5).

As John Bangs, head of education for the National Union of Teachers, says, Hay has created a false divide. There are different types of collegiality: the "golf club" type - inward looking and self-protective - is one, but there also exist teams of staff in very successful schools, teams which are open, self-critical and forward-thinking.

Having attended a Hay McBer training course a few years ago (Leadership skills for serving headteachers), I think I know how the confusion has arisen. The leadership model they presented consisted of three distinct styles.

They derived from a rather simplistic piece of research from the 1960s which compared three styles of leadership within a manufacturing context.

One style was authoritarian, one was achievement-orientated, and the other was "let's all have a great time at work and never mind about results".

As one might expect, the second was the most effective in terms of performance and the third least.

I suspect that Hay McBer are guilty of assuming that all schools fall into one of these three categories, and that if people are having a good time at work, they can't be achieving very much.

Schools are complex places and although a selective, reductionist approach to educational research seems to suit the Government very well in this case, it does not do teachers or schools justice.

Mark Edwards

Millennium Cottages

Stockton Lane

Dawlish, Devon

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