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When a head's ego gets out of control

POWER-CRAZY, ego-driven headteachers can end up terrorising staff and poisoning the collegiate atmosphere a school needs to deliver, Alan McLean, a principal educational psychologist in Glasgow, warns in a major article in this week's TES Scotland.

Following up his analysis of the disruptive teacher, Mr McLean pulls no punches in his latest piece on the disruptive head. He writes: "They may scapegoat and marginalise anyone who disagrees with them while showing favouritism to others. They may dump unachievable tasks on colleagues or remove responsibilities from others. They do not encourage staff to attend courses, ridicule anyone paying for themselves and belittle colleagues who return knowing more than they do." Mr McLean argues that such heads are attracted to management primarily to meet their own needs.

He contends that just as teachers download their attitudes to pupils, so school managers at the top of the "motivation chain" download their values to the classroom teacher. In contrast, Mr McLean says the effective school is one where the head is seen as trustworthy and approachable and sets an empowering structure. Teachers know where the school is going and are given responsibility in line with their skills.

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