Primary heads are too 'heroic'

1st December 2000 at 00:00
PRIMARY headteachers are in danger of becoming remote figures, shut away in their offices and hardly ever speaking to their pupils, according to new research tracking their working day.

Administrative tasks, many of which could be

carried out by someone else, occupy most of their time. Only 10 per cent of their school day is spent on the kind of work they value highly, such as staff development.

Chris Davis, spokesman for the National Primary Heads Association, said: "Heads are becoming ever-more remote and that is worrying. Heads want to be in the position to have some direct contact with pupils and that is clearly not happening."

Seventy-four primary heads kept a log book over four weeks as part of a research project by Queen's University, Belfast. I revealed that they spent the majority of their time office-bound and only 4 per cent of their daily conversations were with pupils.

The research found that heads were falling victim to a "heroic approach", trying to juggle administrative and curricular pressures with leadership responsibilities.

The report said: "Many heads continue to see their role in a somewhat isolated way. They feel responsible even for quite low-level tasks. Many seem to be operating largely on their own."

Heads said they felt challenged, pressured and overworked but only a small number reported being unhappy or confused.

The report, funded by the Centre for British Teachers, called for more money for full-time administrative staff in primary schools.

Leader, p16

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