Headteachers: Children pick their ideal head

18th September 2009 at 01:00
NCSL bosses discover children's dream headteacher is Doctor Who's David Tennant

Original paper headline: Experts try their Tardis to find best head

A government quango tasked with solving the school leadership crisis has spent thousands of pounds asking children which celebrities they would like to see as headteachers.

Staff at the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children's Services (NCSL) think Doctor Who actor David Tennant, X Factor judge Cheryl Cole and former footballer Alan Shearer are "dream" candidates for the job.

Most of the NCSL's 248 staff work on serious research about succession planning and running mandatory courses for new headteachers.

But this summer communications agency Band amp; Brown and research organisation YouGov were tasked by NCSL bosses with surveying about 500 children in order to compile a top 10 list of dream headteachers.

The list of celebrities, drawn up by the communications guru, were then tested on a Year 6 class in the East Midlands before other children, aged nine to 11, were able to vote.

Mr Tennant was the top choice for a quarter of pupils while Mrs Cole came in joint second place - securing 9 per cent of the vote along with Barack Obama and J.K. Rowling. The first lady Michelle Obama, who has spoken of her passion for education, came in seventh place.

Steve Munby, NCSL chief executive, even took time out of his busy schedule to comment on the results of the poll. "Being a head is a tough but extremely rewarding job but you don't need to be a Time Lord to make a difference to children's lives," he said.

"I'm not surprised to see David Tennant at the top of the list alongside positive feedback about their own heads, who are obviously role models in their own right."

Stuart Pywell, headteacher of St Stephen's Junior School in Canterbury, had a mixed reaction to the poll.

"The NCSL shouldn't have spent money on this research, but I actually think David Tennant would make an excellent teacher," he said. "Our pupils have strong ideas about role models, but they usually choose people who are more realistic, such as family members."

Mel Garfield, from Band amp; Brown, defended the research, which cost 7,500. Children were also asked about the leadership qualities most important to them.

"This research is something the NCSL will be able to use going forward, especially when talking to aspiring headteachers about what qualities they need," she said.

Children said intelligence was their top quality, as well as the head being someone they can look up to. Three-quarters said their head made them happy to be at school.

Boys were more likely to choose a celebrity they perceived as a winner, while girls preferred those who are kind and caring.

About 88 per cent said their headteacher wanted the best for their school, three-quarters said they were fair and understood right and wrong, and that he or she wanted pupils to do their best.

Dream leaders: the top 10

  1. David Tennant
  2. Barack Obama
  3. J.K. Rowling
  4. Cheryl Cole
  5. David Beckham
  6. Will Smith
  7. Michelle Obama
  8. Sir Alan Sugar
  9. Lewis Hamilton
  10. Alan Shearer.

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