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HOD- is it worth it?

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by Rubicon81, Jan 28, 2017.

  1. Rubicon81

    Rubicon81 New commenter

    I keep feeling like I should be a HOD- been teaching for 10 years, done management training and think that I've got the potential to be good at it- and there's a couple of serious prospects on the horizon: however my gut feeling is that I don't want to do it: a lot of hassle for not very much money is all I see- plus less time to concentrate on teaching which is what I love and think I'm good at... however colleagues and family members tell me I'm being daft and would love it as a HOD- would be interested in any advice/ experiences :)
  2. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    I enjoyed the HoD role, but not everyone does. Only you can decide this.
    needabreak likes this.
  3. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I wouldn't do it just because you think you ought.
    Wait a few years until you definitely and completely want it and it irritates and frustrates you that you don't. Then you'll be ready.
    thistooshallpass and VeronicAmb like this.
  4. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    There's definitely pros and cons. You can make a difference and have a lot more input into changing things so they have more impact. But it's also all on you. If the results tank for whatever reason, it's your fault. There's a lot of pressure, and it is exhausting. And in my school, I get almost no HoD time so everything happens outside of normal school hours, well beyond the few hours a day you would imagine.
    If I had my time again, I wouldn't do it.
    Mr_G_ICT likes this.
  5. red_observer

    red_observer Star commenter

    NO NO NO
    ive seen 3 Hods in my time and all 3 were and are incredibly stressed out.
    is the money worth it?
    do you see it as part of a ladder climb?
    its not for me...too much silly admin and claptrap to do.
    install likes this.
  6. Snorkers

    Snorkers New commenter

    I only became HOD because my line manager was promoted and I had no desire to be bossed around by some numpty when I was more than capable of doing the job myself - so in that sense, I'd totally agree with caterpillartobutterfly!

    There are points when it is a hassle, but there are other benefits: I feel I have an impact across all of the classes in the department, not just the ones I teach; I really felt ALL of the exam successes, not just for my classes. For me, it's not part of some career ladder and I have no aspirations for senior management. However, at some point, I will have taken the department as far as I can, and then I will probably step back down and let someone else take over the reins.
  7. Mr_G_ICT

    Mr_G_ICT New commenter

    Secretsiren and snorkers have said it all. If you want it, go for it, but don't do it just because you think you have to. you have to want it.
    ViolaClef and wanet like this.
  8. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    As other posters have said, it's up to you if you want to step up into a HoD position. It's good that you've waited 10 years before considering this, many teachers nowadays are after progression from after a year in teaching and that isn't enough. They have experienced very little and are still learning their current role..
    Having said that, I know teachers who have been teaching since the 1960s and are still in their same role almost 50 years later where they are approaching retirement. Some people don't want the stress and responsibility coupled with having a teach a heavy timetable.
    Have you had a conversation with your line manager about progression? Is there any opportunities in your school arising in the near future? If not, the recruitment season is about to start in the next couple of weeks, start looking for suitable roles and applying now for a September (or if you are quick enough), an Easter start....
    Don't forget to inform your Head that you are applying for such positions and ask if you can use them as a reference. This is necessary.
    Owen134866 likes this.
  9. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    I agree with snorkers and others. I applied for HoD after being a SL for 3 years. And I did love every minute of it until the past 10 months or so. Apply if you feel you are ready. To be perfectly honest, I applied so I can be in charge of the curriculum and to develop it in ways I never had the means to as SL. For me, it was all to do with making sure the curriculum was right for the type of pupils that came to our school. For others, it could be about management of staff etc.

    But after 6 years of it, teaching changed drastically and even though I felt like I could offer so much more, it was only fair to let someone else take over. Someday I'm sure I'll come back to teaching, but that idea is the only thing that keeps me awake!
  10. rich_m

    rich_m New commenter

    It's such a leap into the unknown you probably won't know until you make it. On the flip side if you are having doubts at the moment I'd say it's probably best to wait, you can always move up too early and will be thankful of the extra experience if/when you do make the move later. I made the move to head of department after being acting HOD last year (was second before that) and the difference was huge.

    The most pertinent bit of advice I can give you is that as HOD your own teaching isn't a priority, everyone else's is during the teaching day. You need to be confident and secure as a teacher so that you are able to dedicate the time you will need to everything else that comes with the role. Even when you are teaching you're constantly aware of what else is going on and have a responsibility for all other classrooms. Outside of the teaching day again your own marking/planning are so far down the priority list, again it's all about others as you have to be there for them or getting through the inevitable paperwork/admin/etc that is a pain.

    The other main difference is that you have to become the authority figure and you will inevitably change how you are with staff, how you interact with them, and they interact with you, is going to be noticeably different.

    I'm halfway through my first year proper with almost a full year as acting HOD and when I do take a step back I realise I do enjoy it, similar to snorkers above, but dear me it is exhausting at times.
    wanet likes this.
  11. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Those that get promoted far too early don't seem to realise this. You need to be experienced enough to walk into a room and teach your subject. If you can't do this without a lot of planning then it is too early. Agree that I also enjoyed it, but it makes big demands upon you.
  12. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    The OP said they had "management training". What is that please?

    I can't believe how little some schools are offering teachers to become a HoD of Computer Science. A quick flick through the jobs section shows schools in Kent and one in Kenilworth offering just over two thousand to take charge of a large department in a large academy! TWO GRAND ***. You'd need a lobotomy to apply to take on guaranteed 70 hour weeks in a pressure cooker environment and for what? An extra 50 quid a week after tax!!

    The Kenilworth one seems to have others in the same department leaving as well - it says it all.
  13. paulasews

    paulasews New commenter

    I have been a HoF since September and I love it but it is a lot more work for not a lot more money. The extra lenience you get in your timetable is nothing in comparison to the extra hours you work. I came from leading two subjects within the faculty so I had a good understanding of what was involved but I completely underestimated how much the team would lean on me. I would say it is worth it if you want the role - I spent a good couple of years working towards gaining this role as I knew the previous HoF would be retiring at some point - it was far more about professional progress for me than the money.
    If the role doesn't appeal or if you are considering it just for the money or the reduced timetable then I wouldn't give it a second thought. There is such a need in schools for good, experienced teachers who just want to teach and you should be valued for just that.
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    What a refreshing change. A post by someone who has thought things through, looked and learned and gained experience before taking on a role. AND who now sees the positives in amongst the workload.

    Made my day this has! :)
    tosh740 likes this.
  15. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    Hmm....I became HoD and the HoF more or less by accident (no names, no packdrill). With good colleagues (I was really blessed with them) it was very rewarding. In retrospect I spent soooo many hours talking with people - not much to show on paper for all these discussions but essential to support those who wanted help, who needed affirmation, who were wanting to discuss their work and the pupils. What was hard included not having my own teaching base (have to prioritise those with full timetables), not teaching preferred yeargroups and sets (again others have priority), worrying whether my own teaching was good enough to stand comparison with colleagues, worrying about whether we were collectively doing enough and knowing that colleagues couldn't realistically do more. Was it worth it? Yes, if I managed to make a difference; yes, a bit financially; no because of being in the firing line if things didn't go as well as they should. Would I do it again? Yes.
  16. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Did it for a few years but only as a stepping stone upwards. To deliver the department takes a lot of hours. In the end, the sheer constant list of things I would have to do each day on top of being a teacher shredded me. Running the department well was achievable, but the poor old brain can only hold so many things every day in its head before fatigue sets in. Don't see it as an end point, see it as an opportunity to move from being a teacher to something else via HOD.
  17. Elly40

    Elly40 New commenter

    I was hod at my previous school with 8 staff. Never felt comfortable. Am now hod with a dept of 3 and it's so much better.
    It all depends what you want
  18. electricsheep

    electricsheep New commenter

    Head of department is not an easy role. If you are a core subject leader, the pressure is very high. I've seen heads of department crash and burn and have to step down. It depends on the school you are in and the type of support you get. You also must be 100 per cent sure. If in doubt, leave it out!
  19. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    I know this thread is months old but I have been through a similar situation. Many years ago I was acting HOD. I am very experienced and genuinely wanted to help the department especially in times of difficulty and I still maintain this attitude. I never wanted a HOD position due to my family situation. Although I do agree with the workload issues you must also consider the fact that as time passes it might be more difficult to achieve HOD as many younger cheaper and competitive candidates enter the field. Yes gut feeling is important but so is the realisation that it WILL not get easier the longer you leave it. Have you considered second in department which although not the same will definitely give more of an insight into what the future holds. I am ready now but I can tell you it is not easy and I too have all the criteria required and evidence. However I do not regret any previous decisions I made. Maybe you should think like likewise ?. Sorry to go on but if you are a woman or even man with no commitments( children) at the moment I'd definitely go for it NOW so you are well positioned. I know this statement might attract several comments challenging this advice but I speak from a wealth of experience my own and many many others.
    Good luck ... you will make the right decision for you and your current lifestyle.
    kemmy likes this.

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