Night Windows

7th October 2005 at 01:00
Night Windows By Jonathan Smith Abacus pound;7.99

Can we learn as much about educational leadership from novels as from training modules or research? Surely not. But a good novel can sometimes reach parts that other kinds of writing cannot.

In Jonathan Smith's novel, Patrick Balfour is a hugely successful headteacher, novelist, historian and media pundit. Then, suddenly, his glittering life is thrown into disarray by the arrival in school of a detective and his arrest on suspicion of theft, fraud and paedophilia. The evidence against him seems watertight but Balfour is convinced that he is the victim of identity fraud (an experience which apparently befell the author himself several years ago). But who might be out to get him, and what could he have done to have prompted such a terrible revenge? Gradually skeletons emerge from his cupboardI.

As a crime thriller, the novel moves at a brisk pace and has a satisfying denouement. But it is much more than that. Through sharp characterisation it demonstrates the fragility of even ostensibly successful leadership, along with the inner turmoil that is often associated with it. And in lining up the gallery of suspects and their possible motives the author provides a welcome counterweight to the idealistic view of "excellent" leadership so common in official circles today.

Ron Glatter is visiting professor in education at the Open University and Warwick University

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today