Heading for equality

9th June 2000 at 01:00
COURAGE is always to be admired and there can be few greater acts of courage than for a secondary headteacher to imply in print, as John Mitchell does (TESS, June 2), that the "problems and difficulties" of the secondary headteacher are of a different scale from those encountered by primary headteacher colleagues. I trust that the next planned meeting with heads of his associated primary schools is some considerable time away.

Since retiring two years ago from my secondary headteacher post I have had the opportunity better to appreciate the similarities and differences between the burdens of the head in the two sectors: my wife, with impeccable timing, took up her headteacher post as I gave up mine.

The similarities across the sectors are evident enough with the pressures to raise levels of achievement on ever diminishing budgets.

And as for the differences? Yes, they do exist but if the spotlight is to be put upon "problems and difficulties"then what is illuminated is that these exert even greater pressure on the primary headteacher than on the secondary.

There are no principal teachers (subject) to share management and development tasks across the curriculum, no principal teachers (guidance) to support, counsel and advise pupils and families, and but one other senior colleague with whom to share the general management and administrative load.

Add to this the fact that the primary headteacher has responsibility for each child's progress and development over a minimum of seven years and a case can be made out for differentiating the salary scale in favour of the primary school.

All the more so in these times when performance related pay is an issue for has not study after study repeated the message that secondary schools are failing to consolidate and extend the achievement of the primary schools through S1 and S2?

David Nicholson

Bowfield Road, West Kilbride

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