How To Run Your Department Successfully

22nd April 2005 at 01:00
HOW TO RUN YOUR DEPARTMENT SUCCESSFULLY. By Chris Turner. Continuum Pounds 16.99

These are uncertain times for subject leaders in schools, with workforce reform and the impending demise of management allowances. If you can be properly rewarded as a good classroom teacher, why venture into the murky waters of management?

One thing's for sure: aspiring leaders are unlikely to be short of advice.

This book promises a "uniquely practical" approach. Written by a lecturer in education, it covers topics such as dealing with conflict, strategic planning and using data.

There is good advice here, with a reassuring and authoritative tone throughout. What I'm not convinced by is the "uniquely practical" promise.

At the heart of the book is a questionnaire completed by 200 heads of departments, and interviews with 50 of them. The results are less informative than we might expect, as this example highlights:

"Thirty-six subject leaders were asked to comment on conflict in their department. Twelve declined to comment.. It could be a simple reflection of the Schmuck and Runkel position, ie education professionals just do not like talking about conflict".

I found much of the research unenlightening. It doesn't get us anywhere.

Perhaps the book has the wrong title. As a case study to demonstrate how middle managers work in various situations it has its moments of illumination, but uniquely practical it is not.

Geoff Barton is headteacher at King Edward VI school, a 14-19 training school in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

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