What keeps me awake at night - Head's iron fist is not so 'super'

Tes Editorial

I work for a "super" head. He's so super that, not content with achieving record exam results at my school, he's now bidding to take over another local school so he can make it "super" too. He's even put in an application to establish one of those super-duper free school thingies.

In fact, my head is so goddam super that we rarely see him these days, as he spends much of his working week trying to teach other heads how to be super and hobnobbing with MPs, celebrities and journalists, who are only too eager to listen while he explains just how he turned our terrible school into such a super success story.

When he does come into our school, he's always quick to tell us what a super job we're all doing and how the MPs, celebs and journalists are all super impressed with the "difference" we're making.

All this should have me feeling super proud and super keen to get back into school on Monday morning to carry on making a difference, but the problem - as most of you will no doubt have guessed - is that my headteacher is not really super at all. He's bloody awful.

Like many of his ilk, my head came into our "failing" school and promised to "transform results and raise aspirations".

The banner that he's pinned to the front of the school suggests that he's done just that.

The kids are happy because they're all leaving our school with super results; the parents are happy because they're blissfully unaware of the fact that most of their children's results aren't worth the paper they're written on; and our head is happiest of all because everyone thinks he's absolutely super.

The only ones who aren't happy are the staff because our head's success has been built on a management style forged from bullying, fear and intimidation.

Teachers whose coursework is not up to the designated standard are encouraged to "intervene"; staff who don't toe the party line are quietly shunted out of the back door.

Anyone thinking of complaining to their union rep can forget it: our super head doesn't allow unions to operate within our school. If all this sounds vaguely Stalinist or bordering on hysterical then I've at least gone some way towards accurately describing the conditions my colleagues and I face during every working day.

The really frightening thing, however, is that my "super head" really isn't all that special. There are lots of heads just like him up and down the country, all cooking the books and oppressing their staff with the same ruthless efficiency.

And the problem with all these "super heads" is that they've turned what was once a tough but ultimately rewarding career into something far from super.

The writer is a science teacher from the South East of England. To tell us what keeps you awake at night, email david.marley@tes.co.uk.

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