26th October 2007 at 01:00
Q. I have seen a teaching post in a school with fewer than 30 pupils. I teach in one with fewer than 100 pupils, which I thought was small. I am attracted to the job but am worried that I will have trouble getting another post in the future due to the school's size. I also want to start trying for a deputy head post. My present school has no management opportunities, but would such a small school be any better?

A. The first thing to remember is that, in any small school, the relationship between the staff is of key importance. As you are keen to take on leadership responsibilities in the future, you will need a headteacher who is open and sharing. This is the sort of thing you will need to discover when you visit the school.

In the past, some teachers in small schools have been able to progress directly to headship. However, the introduction of the National Professional Qualification for Headship has made this type of accelerated promotion more difficult because you have to demonstrate that you have, or are working towards, the qualification. If you are offered the post, then either plan to spend only a couple of years there before moving on to a larger school or seek out a way to take the NPQH so that you can move to a deputy headship or headship after a couple of years.

I think that you should discuss your ambitions at interview and ask how the head and governors feel about the idea. Some will want a compliant classroom teacher. But others will recognise that small schools need leaders who understand them and that often such leaders can best come from among those who enjoy working in such schools

John Howson is a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University. To ask him a question, email him at

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