Dogged deputies try many times for top job;BERA conference

3rd September 1999 at 01:00
As the annual conference of the British Educational Research Association gets under way, Karen Thornton looks at papers that are being presented on computer literacy, training for deputy heads, formative assessment and advanced-skills teachers

DOGGED deputies determined to reach the heights of headship are making 20 or more applications for top posts.

Good deputies are made, not born, and more attention needs to be given to their particular training needs, says Ron Best of London's Roehampton Institute, who surveyed more than 400 deputies with the help of the Secondary Heads' Association.

Professor Best found that more than half of his respondents aspired to headship, and the same proportion had made at least one application for a head's job. Of those, one-quarter had made more than 10 applications, and one in 12 more than 20.

Three-quarters had got at least one job interview, with 18 per cent having had six or more. One claimed to have had more than 20.

Reasons given by respondents for not applying for headship included a belief that it was too early or too late in their careers, and that they lacked the necessary experience, qualifications or abilities for headship.

Nearly half said they saw the deputy's role as a valid culmination of their careers, while just over half did not want the pressure.

"The fact that more than half the respondents cite their fear of responsibilities, pressures and stresses as reasons for not progressing to headship seems to confirm reports that the way this role has developed in recent years has made it too daunting," says Professor Best in a conference paper.

When it came to training for the deputy's job, just under half had taken some kind of course, although substantial numbers got this training after appointment.

According to Professor Best: "What seems to be lacking is any substantial and systematic analysis of the training needs which such a complex and varied role would seem to entail."

"The support and development needs of UK deputy heads" is available from Ron Best, faculty of education, Roehampton Institute, Roehampton Lane, London SW15 5P

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