Italians also manage without their heads

3rd July 1998 at 01:00
Switzerland is not the only country where you can find a school system where headteachers do not exist ("Teachers are more important than heads", TES, June 26).

In the Reggio Emilia early-years system in Northern Italy, schools have an administrator (clerical level) and an atelierista, who is responsible for ensuring quality curriculum planning and implementation.

In addition, a pedagogista (a high quality trained teacher) is attached to a small group of schools, with a main responsibility for staff development and training decisions. Even these roles are not perceived by school staff to be hierarchical, the staff taking full and joint responsibility for promoting the quality of education within their schools. I have never spoken to such committed teaching staff - with no-one to whom the 'buck' can be passed, it is evident how responsible individuals feel.

Other noteworthy features to which we aspire in this country were the parents' apparent satisfaction with and support for the schools and the staff, the high standards achieved by very young children and the very evident atmosphere of mutual respect and co-operation.

But then, Reggio Emilia staffing is around 12 children to one adult!

Janet Moyles. Senior lecturer. School of Education. Leicester University.

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