Happy to be incompetent

22nd February 2008 at 00:00
The wisdom of Henry Walpole

More surprising news from the world of education. Apparently nobody wants to be a headteacher any more: more than half our serving leaders want to move on in the next four years.

There was a fleeting moment in my career when I thought I might be a head. These days my only ambition is to be one of the General Teaching Council's 17,000 "incompetent" teachers. Incidentally, why 17,000? That seems a bit precise; surely it should be "about 15,000"? If you are going to pick on 17,000, why not be more precise - say 17,253?

Where did my ambition go? One thing that definitely turned me off was the requirement to pass the NPQH. Opinions on the headship qualification vary hugely in the teaching community, from "pointless" to "a waste of time".

One of my friends has recently been attending a series of courses at the National College for School Leadership called "New Visions". I'm a bit worried by headteachers with "visions". I associate these with drug takers and 13th-century religious lunatics. When I think of leaders with visions, I'm imagining private armies and mass suicides.

The NPQH is, according to the college's website, being redesigned. I did once have a set of folders from the course, but the module titles depressed me so much I couldn't bring myself to go to any of the sessions. I have since asked a few heads about the contents of the course and the general opinion was that they contained "nothing that could ever be useful in running a school".

It's all very well doing some role play and sharing in a "talking circle" to find out what kind of leadership style you have, but when you turn up in post on day one and the water in the school doesn't work, you might find that some elementary advice on school closure procedure and how to find somebody in a local authority who will take responsibility for anything might have come in a bit more useful.

I read in The TES of another poor soul with a "troubled" intake who has been pushed out by the "standards issue". Surely heads should actually be about engaging with children and managing the day-to-day running of a school. The image it conjures up for me is of someone sitting in their office, the floor littered with print-outs of Fischer Family Trust graphs, gently praying that the genetic inheritance of the local estate they serve will mutate overnight into a legion of potential Oxbridge students.

Stop Press! I've just received a magazine through my door. Apparently the GTC wants an end to key stage testing and for standards to be measured by confidential cohort sampling. I agree! You know the bit underneath here where it says, "More from Henry in a fortnight"? I wouldn't count on it. I think this is probably a sign the world is going to end. At least you know you don't have to do that marking ...

More from Henry in a fortnight.

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