Mingers need not apply for the job

16th March 2007 at 00:00
Ian Roe is a pseudonym, he teaches in North Wales

We sent out 33 application packs for our headship appointment. They flew to all four corners of the country. We were mightily encouraged, scanning the post every day with hope and expectation. But not many of them returned to roost - in the end we had nine completed applications. That is about average.

We are not a high-performing school and never will be. We serve an area of disadvantage. Our buildings are decaying visibly before us. We are undoubtedly a challenge. But generally it is a happy place. The children are excellent, they are lively and honest, and most of the parents are very supportive.

We did include a page in our application contributed by our fierce girls in Year 10. Their own expectations of a head's role are very exacting. Perhaps that put them off. I know it frightened the life out of me.

At least I edited the material before it went out. I left out the comment that said "No mingers should apply".

Perhaps, in the end, there were other reasons why the numbers of applicants were limited. I believe it is linked to the nature of the post.

I know some excellent people working in schools across the country and they would never entertain it. They have flair, vision and belief, but there is no way they would like to embrace all the other stuff that goes with a headship. And, in a school like mine, there is an awful lot of that stuff.

When you examine our performance data you can put together a picture of the kind of problems we present. And there are many people out there who don't want to take them on. Why should they?

The requirement to possess the National Professional Qualification for Headship has restricted the field. That might be one reason why we have had no local candidates at all.

Finding a way to discriminate against the applicants is difficult. It is a daunting and demanding process for both sides. But "the committee" is forming a picture of the person they are looking for.

Instinct and gut feeling has a part to play. The governors must find a way of examining what has been written methodically. It goes beyond style or written fluency. The application that isn't quite as well written as the next may in fact come from the better candidate.

It's an exhausting process and a big decision - I'm just glad I'm not involved.

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