Experience comes with time

5th May 2006 at 01:00
Congratulations to Michael Roach on his recent appointment to a headship at the age of 29 (TESS, April 21).

However, he might be interested to know that my own career pathway possibly overshadows his own. I took up my first headteacher post in the year in which he was born!

I was appointed to be depute head at Jean Street primary in Port Glasgow at the age of 24 years by the late Hugh Fairlie, the highly distinguished director of education for Renfrewshire County Council.

In 1977, at the age of 29, I was appointed to be headteacher of Bushes primary in Paisley, which had a pupil roll of over 550, by Tom McCool, the well-respected divisional education officer in Strathclyde Regional Council.

Both these eminent educationists subscribed to the same philosophy as John Wilson, director of education for East Renfrewshire where Mr Roach works.

I well remember Tom McCool's words of advice to me: "Don't make a mess of the job or we'll never appoint anyone below the age of 40 again." He lived a stone's throw away from the school - so no pressure on me to be successful.

Finally in 1991, I moved to be head of Stanley primary, now in North Ayrshire Council.

On one point, I would slightly disagree with Mr Roach. Good headteachers have always been both managers and leaders. They have also always tried to nurture the leadership potential of teachers on their staffs.

Now in the twilight of my career, I hope to surpass 30 years in post as a headteacher. Who knows, the challenge of moving to a new school building next year might just reinvigorate me.

I wish Mr Roach good luck for the future. But I would emphasise the point that the hardest thing is working in the front line for an extended number of years and so would urge him to try not to become an "educational butterfly".

Lachlan M Martin

Greenock RoadLargs

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