Tips from the top

12th September 1997 at 01:00
What makes a good headteacher? We asked school managers around Scotland what words of advice they would share with colleagues

Colin MacLean, headteacher Auchinleck Academy, East Ayrshire: 1,000 pupils, 72 staff

"Let people see what you are made of - pupils, staff, parents and the authority. Man management is crucial, particularly under stress. Being able to manipulate, to lead by example, to inspire confidence in the whole school community.

"You have to deal with people on a one-to-one basis to know their strengths and weaknesses and have them know that you will support them to the hilt. The key is to sit back and listen - and to be seen to be responding.

"Don't expect to be able to relax. The headteacher today has to be a politician, and a salesman with a touch of the inspector thrown in."

Colin Hunter, headteacher Tiree High School, Isle of Tiree: 120 pupils, 13 staff

"Good time management skills are essential. If you don't prioritise your time, you can't achieve much.

"Keeping a good diary, forward planning over the day, the term, the year and beyond is vital. Here, we have the complexities of offering education in Gaelic and in English, and it's important to make sure that long-term targets are being established and as far as possible to ensure that you are keeping up with the timescale you have set for yourself.

"You have to believe that something can be achieved, so targets must be realistic."

Jim Thewliss, headteacher Harris Academy, Dundee: 1,400 pupils, 72 staff

"Don't faff about: listen, make clear decisions and be prepared to admit your mistakes. You have to apply these principles at all levels and if you don't admit your mistakes, you will have no credence within the school community. "

William Johnston, headteacher Aberdeen Grammar School: 1,100 pupils, 90 staff

"The essence of management is to establish an agreed equilibrium for all priorities.

"The most overt challenge now is to maintain and improve familiarity with information technology, streamlining the procedures and picking up the pace and efficiency of information retrieval. This has impact on both administration and learning opportunities.

"But more important is what we call 'ethos', but I prefer to call the whole network of relationships, which is the focal point of the school community and is much more elusive than something tangible like information technology.

"If you place the individual first, make the individual - pupil, teacher, parent - feel valued, then all else will fall into place.

"But the one is linked to the other, so the equilibrium of priorities is at the heart of everything."

If you have a useful tip for any sector of education, please send it to the School Management page, TES Scotland, 37 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HN, or telephone 0131 220 1100

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