Good heads get the details right;Briefing;School Management

4th June 1999 at 01:00
WHETHER it's eradicating graffiti, dealing with irate parents or tackling performance, every day brings a new challenge for a new headteacher.

A new booklet, 365 Pieces of Advice for the New Headteacher, written and produced by a head with 12 years' experience, offers practical advice for all situations.

Its author, Tony Stephens, head of Mill Hill School, Ripley, Derbyshire, says: "Training for new headteachers concentrates on generic management strategies, which are useful, but being a good head is really about getting the details right. I'm just sharing good practice."

The booklet is divided into sections on relations with staff, parents, students and the community, as well as leadership, academic, management and site issues. It has had a positive reception from several senior figures in education including Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector, and Tim Brighouse, chief education officer for Birmingham.

Several local authorities have already ordered copies. The key to being an effective head is to "look after the staff and show respect for the pupils", says Stephens.

Among the many pieces of advice he offers are these: l Make sure you are clear in your vision of where the school is going and that you are communicating it.

* Heads get paid well - work long hours and be seen to work long hours. It is the least that staff expect.

* Make a note of all staff birthdays. Send them a card andor congratulate them personally.

* Don't lie to staff, make promises you don't keep, or let them down. Some staff never forget.

* Limit new initiatives to the vital and the manageable. Too much innovation is counter-productive.

* Never forget that the vast majority of children in school are pleasant, friendly, hard-working and keen to do well - they need full appreciation.

* Try and learn the names of as many students as possible. Plan how you are going to do this.

* Any graffiti should be removed instantly. Students can be inculcated into a culture where graffiti just doesn't happen. Make regular checks yourself and be high profile in doing this.

* Listen more and talk less.

* Praise and rewards are one of the most essential parts of the school. Spend a lot of time encouraging a praise culture and devising a rewards system that actually works - try to go beyond just merit marks and certificates.

* Read The Times Educational Supplement every week. It is an excellent summary of what is going on. Cut out relevant articles for your staff.

Copies of the booklet are available (for the cost of photocopying and postage) from Mill HIll School, Peasehill, Ripley, Derbyshire, DE5 3JQ. Tel 01773 746334. Fax 01773 570685.

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