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Can you go back to being a deputy or class teacher if you are a head?

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by anon760, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. I was asked to be acting head of our small school (80+ pupils) from September 2009. I had already completed NPQH and was encouraged by all, including my own family, to apply for the headship when it was advertised. I was not shortlisted first time round and at first was not going to reapply, but decided to go for it again, and this time was successful.

    Unfortunately, with budget squeezes we no longer have the means to afford a deputy, so I am now on my own with a TLR. I love our school and am working hard to try and keep things going,but feel so stressed constantly. I have two teachers on maternity leave, one who has Year 6, and we have had little success in gaining a replacement so I am now teaching Year 6, trying to keep on top of the office work, managing a building project etc etc. On top of everything else my chair of governors has developed a habit of texting me whenever I do anything that he objects to (which seems to be pretty much constantly).

    I bitterly regret moving out of the classroom. I enjoyed being a deputy but feel weepy and anxious all the time now. I am currently looking for another position, but would another governing body look on me as a failure? I am hoping that my leadership experience would mean I would have more insight as to how to support a head, and fully understand and appreciate the pressures. I am at the point of just handing in my notice and going on supply, it is only the fact my husband has been laid off at Christmas that is preventing me from doing this.

    Does anyone know of anyone else who has made this 'backwards' step?
     
  2. I was asked to be acting head of our small school (80+ pupils) from September 2009. I had already completed NPQH and was encouraged by all, including my own family, to apply for the headship when it was advertised. I was not shortlisted first time round and at first was not going to reapply, but decided to go for it again, and this time was successful.

    Unfortunately, with budget squeezes we no longer have the means to afford a deputy, so I am now on my own with a TLR. I love our school and am working hard to try and keep things going,but feel so stressed constantly. I have two teachers on maternity leave, one who has Year 6, and we have had little success in gaining a replacement so I am now teaching Year 6, trying to keep on top of the office work, managing a building project etc etc. On top of everything else my chair of governors has developed a habit of texting me whenever I do anything that he objects to (which seems to be pretty much constantly).

    I bitterly regret moving out of the classroom. I enjoyed being a deputy but feel weepy and anxious all the time now. I am currently looking for another position, but would another governing body look on me as a failure? I am hoping that my leadership experience would mean I would have more insight as to how to support a head, and fully understand and appreciate the pressures. I am at the point of just handing in my notice and going on supply, it is only the fact my husband has been laid off at Christmas that is preventing me from doing this.

    Does anyone know of anyone else who has made this 'backwards' step?
     
  3. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    Yes, I do. A head teacher who was similarly stressed out and was beginning to have his health affected. He resigned from his headship, hoping to find a teaching post. Unfortunately he hasn't been able to find anything permanent, maternity cover etc. However, he says he doesn't regret it. He also says that deputy head is the best job to have.
    He's a terffic teacher, full of good advice and experience.
    What a pity you don't have more support. Why can't you replace your Y6 teacher? Get a cheaper model than your teacher who's on leave and hole yourself up in the office paid for by the extra money. When things get back to normal do you see things being easier?
    Think twice before leaving, are the other governors/LEA supportive?
     
  4. FabulousPoodle

    FabulousPoodle New commenter

    I really feel for you. You are having a pretty awful time. I have been in your situation (new head, overly critical GB) and know how stressful that can be ...and I didn't have to teach a class at the same time!
    Lets look at the positives here. You love your school. You want the best for your school. You obviously really care about your pupils, because you teach them yourself, rather than put in place 'ad hoc' arrangements. You applied for the headship because you believed you could do the job, encouraged and supported by many others who believed in your ability. You CAN do the job. You are MORE than doing it now - managing the school while teaching Y6 at the same time, really demonstrates that you are committed to your school and care about your pupils!
    The role of your Chair of Governors is to be a 'critical friend' - to support and challenge. It sounds as if s/he is taking that role a bit too seriously! But actually, it was the Governing body that appointed you and they did not have to appoint if they did not think you could do the job.
    You sound stressed and tired and I am not surprised, because being a class teacher is like having two full time jobs. The one you work during the day and the one you work evenings and weekends. To combine this with the role of headteacher when you are new to the role and naturally susceptible to feeling insecure about your capabilities is very hard.
    Anyway, sympathy is all very well, but you need support and advice. So here it mine for what it is worth......
    TAKE CONTROL - YOU ARE THE HEAD!
    Flag up your situation with your union (NAHT are fantastic!)
    Flag up your situation with your LEA. Do you have a SIP/LEA Advisor? Your are doing your best to cope in a difficult situation and you should have support from your LEA. Tell them you are struggling to cope - not because you can't perform the headship role, but because it is expecting too much to be both Head and Deputy Head AND combine this with a full time teaching role when you are new to the job!
    Do you have a regular meeting set up with your Chair of Governors? Rather than replying every time you get a text, you could save and record them and address them all in a regular meeting. Getting a critical text at a time when you are stressed and tired is going to make you feel awful and disempowered. Don't read the texts as they arrive. Set aside a time when you can relax, preferably with a supportive friend/partner present, then read the text(s). Be objective, dont take all comments personally. Make a table, record the texts and the response you want to make. Then, when you meet with your CoG, s/he might be surprised at the number of issues you have recorded. You will also have a record for your Union and your LEA if you feel the texts are bordering on harrassment.
    Your Governing Body, as your employers, (and if not, your LEA) have a duty of care towards you and to leave you in this impossibly stressful situation and worse, to bombard you with texts you because stuff isn't being done while you try to cope with three jobs is just not acceptable.
    To answer the question you actually posted, I have never heard of a HT reverting to DHT, although I have had former HTs in my school as supply teachers. (Usually retired, but wanting to maintain contact with the teaching role they love, even if just for a day or two occasionally). I left this until last because having read your post, I feel that the pressure of your situation is making you long to revert to a role where you felt capable and in control - a role that is familiar and secure. Yet your capability is not in question. You have been stretched too thinly and this intolerable situation is not of your making, so I don't think going backwards in your career is the answer. You deserve support to ensure that you achieve success in your current role.
    There are 400 HT post advertised in TES this week. Schools need committed, hardworking, people like you, who really care. I really hope you can work through this difficult time and in the future, enjoy the challenge of headship. I wish you all the best.
     
  5. Thank you both for your good advice and support, it means a lot. We are on half term this week, and my own mother is in hospital 30 miles away, so I think this has added to the stress, (especially as one of the texts came through as I was visiting!). I went to see my doctor yesterday and have contacted Occupational Health. As you both say, I am capable of doing the job, and when I was Deputy felt a lot more in control, but unfortunately don't have a 'me' supporting me now! I am going to sit down this weekend and think seriously about what jobs can be delegated, eg assemblies, dinner duties etc, and see how things go. I know I can't go on much longer like this.
     
  6. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    My friend took on a small failing school and was promised many things that didnt materialise. When ofsted arrived (in the days of 2 terms notice) she had a breakdown and quit. She took 6 months out then got a job as KS2 leader, then quickly moved to DH again. She is now on her 2nd successful headship, so it can be done.
    I think you need to have strong words with your chair and make it clear that your mobile number is for emergencies only, otherwise she is to contact you in office hours only, preferably face to face so proper discussions can occur. If she persists, change your number and dont give her it.
     
  7. gergil4

    gergil4 New commenter

    Can you employ a part-time teacher to take afternoons - leave sci, maths and lit to the mornings so you have control over that? There are LOTS of good teachers looking for supply/short term/part-time work.
    Good luck.
     
  8. bnm

    bnm

    Pondering the OP's post I think it is the chair of governors who is causing you stress through the texts. Can you take control of this situation?
    Perhaps you could organise a weekly/fortnightly meeting where issues are discussed face to face.....texts/letters can be stressful because they take away conversation and a frank exchange of views. Try to remember that the C of G is not your boss: you are the head and the the C of G may have vaulable opinions but you are the one in charge of the day to day running of the school. I wonder how much experience the C of G has?
    Try to re-frame the relationship on your terms. The C of G could become your strongest ally if you could manage the communication in a way which supports you and is appopriately challenging.
    Good luck.
     
  9. Yes, the rare creatures you describe do exist. I was a head for 3 years plus, turned around the school and managed a successful Ofsted. However I was never happy in the role at that school and in the end left with no job to go to. In retrospect this was an incredibly foolish thing to do ! Luckily after a term of supply, through contacts I got myself a position I loved as SEN support and after 3 more years I am a deputy again and still very happy.
    My advice is , give it some time, the 2nd year is easier than the first, the 3rd easier than the second and so on. Also it may just be the school, you may be perfectly happy as a head in another school. So think about staying till you're in a position to apply for other headships. If however you decide as I did that it just isn't the right postion for you at the present time make sure you have the next job lined up before you leave and use all of your contacts.
    It also strikes me that now is a more problematic time to be leaving as you will be competing with all the LA advisors etc who have been made redundant and are looking to come back to the coal face.
    Good Luck with whatever you decide.
     
  10. The use of the word 'back' in the original question is thought provoking (well it is for me anyway).
     
  11. FabulousPoodle

    FabulousPoodle New commenter

  12. I was a deputy for 8 years. I was asked to do an interim headship in a small junior school just across the county border in Sept 2007. I loved it. At the end of the two terms, I was due to go back to being deputy so I applied for a substantive headship at another school. It had a history of low standards and always struggled to get good staff. Staff turnover was also very high. I genuinely thought I could go in there and turn the school round. It was a disaster. By the time I started 3 of the 6 class teachers had already left and the deputy left a month later. I was left with NQT and part timers. The LEA wanted quick results. The behaviour of many of the children was poor. To cut a long story short, my health was suffering. Sleepness nights, high anxiety and pains in my chest. I would dread going into work. The LEA were supportive and paid for an experienced ex HT to come and support me two days a week but it wasn't enough. I was stessed and so were the staff. I was an excellent teacher in the classroom. Thats when I was at my best - I felt relaxed, challenged and totally fulfilled. I'm a vey gregarious person but felt as a HT I had to keep my distance. Headship just wasn't for me. Despite being a visible HT, I'd be office bound dealing with all the **** that more often than not wasn't even regarding T&L. My GP signed me off with depression and high anxiety just under a year from starting my headship. I had OH but I wanted to leave and get back in the classroom. I resigned with no job to go to. My governors were generous in what they gave me in recognition of my hard work. Since Sept 2009, I've had a couple of full time fixed term positions and have loved it. I have struggled, though, to find full time permanent work. Have been doing supply since Jan this year. Agency rates are appalling but I have a few schools that I work for on a regular basis who pay me my scale rate. I have applied for a few DHT positions but no joy. This has surprised me as I have a wealth of experience as a DHT. Maybe HT and Gov bodies want someone up and coming or are not keen to hire an ex HT. Yes, I'm not earning anything like I was but, boy, am I happier. Luckily I have a very very understanding wife who earns a good salary but I would love to get back in the classroom.
    I always felt I was a very good DHT - contributing to the SDP, working with other teachers, leading teams of teachers and gov etc and supporting the HT. Being HT is so so different to being DHT and NPQH in no way prepares you for what headship is really about. Look at the all the vacant headships in the TES - is it any wonder schools are struggling to get HT with the demands of the job. I have many friends who are excellent DHT and senior teachers who have no intention of going for Headship. Their sanity and work life balance are too important for them.
    At the end of the day, you have to do what is best for you. You, your husband and your family. My brother in law asked me, " do you wake up in the morning, looking forward to going into work? If not, it's time to re-think what you're doing". Teaching is the best job in the world. I've been doing it since 1987 and wouldn't do anything else.
    I wish you all the best. Take care of yourself.

     
  13. You can go to be a deputy or class teacher again. in a small school you are getting a different view of headship to being in a large school. I stepped down from a small school headship when I was teaching, my father ill and we had building works. It took quite a while for my health to recover and I am happy now to have retired as well but on a heads pension as all this was in the previous 10 years.

    Do apply for deputy headships or TLRs near you as it is better than trying to do the 2 jobs you are doing at present. My school was the same size and I had a difficult Chair of GB. You perhaps need to be straight with him and say that all his texts are putting you under pressure and explain that you are seeking another post as the current situation in school is putting you under stress and is damaging your health.You can also take temporary contracts. You can easily compete with anyone from county as you are still in the classroom and they are not.

    You will find that a deputy in a large school may even be paid more than you are at present! In the school I do supply in there are only 100 children and the deputy has a day a week deputy time and the head only teaches one day a week- she is fabulous though and does before school and lunchtime with the children, running clubs and supervising playtimes.

    I did 5 years and lost a lot of time with my children . Stepping down gave me back some time with them. Once I was well I never regretted it. Good luck.
     
  14. Thank you to all who have taken the trouble to reply to my very desperate plea for help! To update you on the situation; my mother is now back at home and out of danger, so that is one worry I can forget about at least. I spoke to the Chair of Govs and explained how upset his texts were making me feel and that if he felt he was not being kept up to date enough maybe we could arrange a weekly/fortnightly meeting or telephone call at a mutually convenient time. I have just been given an appointment for counselling through OH which I am going to take up.
    I think the texts were the straw that broke the camels back so to speak, have been working really hard and then the SIP informed me the LA were putting us in category D because we didn't meet the floor targets last year, she said it was clear that great improvements had been made and that things were looking good this year and we were likely to be moved out in summer, but the LA could only look at the data. Two of our 4 teachers have been on maternity leave, the second one starting a term after the first. Without going into what will probably just sound like excuses, it has been extremely difficult getting cover, especially as one was for a Y5/6 class and one for Year 1/2, (bearing in mind we have just been moved into Cat D). Luckily that is now resolved and have lovely supply teachers doing a great job, and hopefully one will be a permanent member of the team shortly. Added to which the usual office workload which mounts up terribly. I have now cut down my teaching to two and a half days a week, plus a playground duty and lunch duty each day, and after school drama club. As Bassa Dai (sorry if I have spelt that wrongly), I feel totally at home in front of a class of children.

    I am going to stick things out to the end of this academic year, keep up with the counselling and try to stay a bit more positive. Thank you all so much for your help, I think these forums are a real life-saver.
     
  15. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    Take care.
     

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