'One of the tensions of deputy head is that staff see you as a go-between'

22nd October 2004 at 01:00
Wendy Aitken took the Enabling Leadership course shortly after becoming deputy head at Reid Street primary school, Darlington three years ago. Now she is hoping to apply for a headship.

My first real taste of management was as key stage two manager. I would have been happy doing that for a couple of years, but then the deputy headship came up. I knew I wanted to move in that direction - so I grabbed it with both hands, and I'm glad I did.

One of the tensions of being a deputy can be that other staff view you as a go-between: they come to you with something, and you pass it on to the head - but we discourage that at my school. You have to be wary how you deal with some members of staff, depending on the experience they have had of other deputies.

I was worried that I would miss having contact with the children - I now take a class in the afternoons only - but I have found that I actually love being out of the classroom. The challenge of managing other members of staff is that they have got to see why you are doing things the way you are. You need to choose the right mix of people for the right teams to do the right jobs - and as they do these jobs, show them that they are valued.

On the course, we did a lot of work on different styles of leadership in different scenarios. In a questionnaire on it, I got the highest score the course director had ever seen - so I really liked that! I think the high score indicated that I'm capable of adopting different styles, which might be guiding, or motivating, or developing other members of staff.

I feel I am developing as a team leader in perfomance management .

Sometimes more experienced members of staff may feel 'Why do I need to do this?' In the past I've assumed that other people have the same sort of drive and ambition that I do - but I've learnt to reflect on this, and to find ways of turning a situation round so that a teacher will see it as chance for personal development.

What the course did was affirm my desire to be a head. I'm quite a self-doubter, but I came out of the course thinking, I could possibly do this.

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