Suspicious minds ruin the atmosphere

23rd February 2007 at 00:00
Ian Roe is a deputy headteacher in North Wales

Everything is in place now. The application pack is ready, the advertisement submitted. The governors are pleased and expect everyone to be excited by the prospect of a new headteacher.

The question the professionals ask is, who will apply?

I am one of those deputy heads who has never chased this particular dream.

I was interviewed once for a headship. Imagining myself in the role was so ridiculous that I have never done it again.

I realised there was no way in which I was prepared to accept what the job demanded. I have never felt the pay is an issue. It is more about quality of life and independence.

It seems to me that becoming a head is a career decision that affects everyone around you. The rest of the family have to accept it, too. Your time, and thus their time, isn't always your own anymore.

Teachers have always enjoyed, throughout their career, a freedom about when and where they work, within broad parameters. That can be quickly eroded when you become a head. Even the holidays are not yours any longer.

Can you have it all? I don't think so. The job of headteacher is certainly a different one.

I have been deputy for many years. I find the sudden hostility of staff difficult to deal with. Teachers with whom I have worked quite happily for many years, suddenly avoid me. Everything I say or do is closely examined, and my motives questioned.

How can it be that I am suddenly a different person from yesterday? This is not something that I need. Emotionally I am not eager to accept this sudden and unexpected role as the new enemy. Suddenly I am a focal point for everyone's dissatisfactions with a creaking system.

The head's appointment is a highly significant moment for our school. It is unlikely that there is anyone within a five-mile radius of the school who earns as much as the head. It is a significant position, carrying a level of local celebrity and status. It is not something to be taken on lightly.

It seems as if the whole world is watching to see what happens.

I try to be upbeat. But certainly other schools are struggling to appoint.

A neighbouring one refused even to draw up a shortlist. But what guarantee do they have that a new advert will bring in anything different?

There aren't many heads on the circuit these days. And if they don't get anyone new applying, how will the management feel about having to shortlist from a group they rejected the first time around?

None of it seems easy.

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