Head mentors deserve better

2nd January 1998 at 00:00
In "Choose your mentors well" (TES, December 12), I think that HA Bond may be a little premature in his rejection of the headteacher mentoring scheme where education and business leaders work together to the benefit of both.

The scheme is based on leaders working in partnership. They bring equal skills to the table and the process is based on sharing those skills. The senior business manager acts as a confidential sounding-board and reflector for the headteacher. The overwhelming evidence from the 400-plus pairs involved in the scheme to date is that there are significant two-way benefits. The scheme enables both senior managers to draw on the skills and experiences of the other.

The guidelines on the selection of mentors say they must include senior people who are mature, flexible, open-minded and enthusiastic.

Feedback from the scheme clearly demonstrates that a mentoring partner can provide insight into strategic planning and development, budgeting, human resource management, marketing and public relations - all key areas of expertise required of a headteacher. A common remark by participating headteachers is how much they benefit from the wider perspective provided by a partner with a business background.

Recent research into many forms of organisation, whether they be commercial, private, public or charitable, shows how important it is to have a leader who has the personal skills and managerial expertise to deliver the vision. In many studies, the leadership skills and vision shown by managers are the most crucial factor; these will not be learned by closing away the headteacher from the wider society.

HA Bond would be welcome to come along to any of the Business in the Community mentoring meetings to meet the participants.

PATRICK WHITE

Business in the Community 44 Baker Street London W1

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