The obstacle course to headship

8th February 2008 at 00:00
Again you have reported, quite rightly, on the huge sense of frustration among heads about bureaucracy ("10,000 heads to leave red tape behind", TES, February 1). And, sadly, it begins before aspirant heads even have a chance to start.

I have lost count of the number of serving teachers - first-class practitioners in the art of teaching - who take one look at the national qualification for headship (NPQH) and say "no thank you".

I am quite sure I would fail it - indeed, the only colleague brave enough to ask for my help failed to get on the course - and probably do serious damage to my laptop in the process. It was a stroke of genius on the part of some long-forgotten bureaucrat to create an obstacle course just at the point when headteacher recruitment began to be a serious problem. It is defended only by the army of consultants who make a living out of it. Serving heads have better things to do.

A constructive idea: two weeks shadowing a successful school leader (in a similar type of school) in the term prior to taking up appointment and a continuing relationship thereafter. "We never covered that on the NPQH" would quickly become a thing of the past. It would save a fortune as well.

Dennis Richards OBE, Headteacher, St Aidan's CofE High School, Harrogate, and Ted Wragg Lifetime Achievement national winner 2007.

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