Don't rain on my management structure

1st July 2005 at 01:00
At last I have discovered the art of delegation. After breaking my wrist during a half-term holiday in Majorca I have been forced into taking some time off and passing on much of my work to my more able-bodied colleagues.

When you are used to being independent and in control it is difficult to be so dependent on others. There is very little I can do unaided. Yet there is so much to do in this so-called quiet term. My leadership team already have so much to do that it pains me to give them even more work.

There are some things I can't delegate completely. The latest management restructuring exercise needs a combined effort and lots of time. After all, restructuring your whole staff, within a very prescriptive framework, is a huge and, in my view, unnecessary exercise.

The promised Department for Education and Skills guidance was delayed because of the election, but Whitehall sees no reason to delay the process or extend the deadlines. So much for work-life balance. At our school we have arranged a special staff meeting for next week, before the staff annual BBQ, organised by the governors. As the chair of governors remarked, the meeting will put a bit of a dampener on this event.

Of course, we did not wait for publication of the guidance before we started work on this huge task. We carried out a full audit of management posts and are clear that our structure meets the needs of the school. It does need some rationalisation, but not a major overhaul. It was not broken, so why do we need to fix it?

Our current system is expensive but it works well. You get what you pay for. There is much to do and leadership and management skills of teachers and support staff are key to the success of the school. As headteacher, I know what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. I don't need the DfES to tell me.

I thought government policy was about increasing the autonomy of heads.

Management points in my school have been awarded for leadership and management responsibilities. They have not been awarded for retention and recruitment purposes. There are clear progression routes for staff, giving colleagues the opportunity to experience leadership at all levels. In this way succession planning is in-built. Leadership is distributed and teachers and support staff are ambitious and keen to be tomorrow's leaders.

The fact is whatever structure we come up with there are going to be losers. Despite the fact that the guidance tells us that the exercise is not about saving money and that no individual should lose out, this is an impossible task. Lots of teachers will lose money, particularly those who currently receive one management point. Other losers will be those who at present carry out two different management roles. This is not allowed in the new framework. I am very surprised that the unions and professional association agreed to the deal as I just cannot see that it is in their members' best interest.

We led the way on workforce reforms at our school and already ensure that teachers are not doing jobs that could and should be done by our support staff, who do a fantastic job, but, like the rest of us, are working to their full capacity. We cannot just add more and more to their jobs.

Part of the plot seems to be to get teachers to stay longer in schools and so reduce the turnover of staff. However, I don't believe this will change the situation in inner-city schools where we lose younger teachers who move out of the city in order to find affordable housing. We keep them longer by providing them with development opportunities and clear progression routes.

The proposed new structures will make this very difficult.

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