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Being pigeonholed as Head of Maths

Discussion in 'Senior Leadership Team' started by tonys_1978, Mar 6, 2016.

  1. tonys_1978

    tonys_1978 New commenter


    I am a HOD of a very successful maths department and our results are in the top 3% nationally. A few months ago, an internal position came up for the role of acting assistant head. There were 3 candidates and I felt I was in a strong position. I didn't get it and while the person that did get I am sure can do the job, I felt I was a stronger candidate based on track record, reputation and from talking to colleagues in the school. I also have some whole school experience particularly in relation to INSETS, teaching & learning, training, coaching and data.

    I did realise though that there wasn't really anyone who could take over my job as HOD in my department at the time. So this made me think that this was an influencing factor in the decision to appoint (maths being a very important core subject that has shortages and the headteacher was also new to the role and perhaps wanted to maintain stability in the maths department).

    Recently, I had a conversation with the head about my career and was basically told that I will be doing HOD again next year. I was told that while I have great experience raising standards of achievement (this is the core purpose of any school) and CPD, I didn't have whole school pastoral experience. However, many senior leaders when appointed come from being HODs without whole school pastoral.

    In senior leaders' experiences, is this common? Am I being pigeonholed or do I really need pastoral beyond just being a HOD and tutor to become an assistant head? Do you think I need to leave my school in order to advance my career? Any thoughts/advice is appreciated.

    Many thanks
  2. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Possibly. not a bad idea either. Better to get a wider experience if you want further promotion.
  3. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    I suspect you're right and it's not really a question of needing more pastoral experience, more a case that good maths teachers are hard to find and good maths HODs even harder.

    If you apply to a different school, they can appoint you without losing a maths teacher - they'll even gain a few periods from you probably.

    It's sad though, that a school should lose a good maths teacher for this reason.
  4. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    If I was you, I would start looking for promotion in a different school. When you tell your HT that you are applying for a new role, they will probably question themselves why didn't they promote you in the first place.
    The thing is though, you may think you are the stronger candidate, but it may be based solely on interview performance. You've got to sell yourself even if you know the recruiting panel.
    install likes this.
  5. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I recall the ' ethos ' of a former school where the Head deliberately 'pinned' folk in the roles ( Humanities ) where they were most effective and denied them opportunities to develop. It was a very different setting - challenging students and top 1% social deprivation in the country so there were also difficulties attracting and recruiting staff on occasions. I recall him 'promising' a promotion to one excellent Head of Year if they withdrew an application to another school - she did and he didn't ( promote that is ). Another member of staff ( Maths ) enjoyed a brief period on the LT - this time with an alternative Head but was not appointed to the permanent role. They were informed that they were needed to expend their energies on getting the results in Maths. Ultimately most schools will do what us best for the school and in their reasoning therefore doing the best for their students. You may find that a move is the only way to address your ambition.
    install likes this.
  6. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Spot on!

    Best wishes

  7. tonys_1978

    tonys_1978 New commenter

    Many thanks for all the impartial advice. It has confirmed that it will be best for my career to move on!
    install and zippygeorgeandben like this.
  8. install

    install Star commenter

    Can I just say to be very careful - a few years ago I found myself in the same position.

    Having found a promotion as an 'Assistant Head' , the new Head then changed his approach upon my arrival and stated that I would be really be in fact a glorified Head of Subject (but with a fixed point on the leadership pay spine even though it was advertized as a scale that would rise).

    Added to that, there was no Head of my Subject in post - so I ended doing both.And the school refused to advertise for a HOD.

    I think as a Head of Core - you could easily go for a Deputy Head (but I would get NPQSL first)...
  9. gujan

    gujan New commenter

    I would say that very good middle leaders are rarely promoted to SLT in their school. I would seek promotion somewhere else.
    install likes this.
  10. zippygeorgeandben

    zippygeorgeandben Occasional commenter

    I'm moving schools this year. Currently KS1 lead and there was no way for me to move from MLT to SLT so I looked out there and I'm now going to be Head of EYFS, part of SLT and Leadership scale. You've received great advice here, you sound great at your job and if I was you I'd be looking elsewhere. I imagine your role doesn't cause you sleepless nights and you maange it well but come on, where's the fun in that?! Get looking :)

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