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how can I become a HOD?

Discussion in 'Music' started by performerscollective, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. I am beginning to look at HOD jobs. In my current position i teach KS 2, 3, 4 and 5. I create the SOW and review the modules at the end of each year and implement new ones. I run 6 extra curricular groups and participate in 2 groups run by another teacher. I manage a substansial budget. I have reviewed different exam boards to decide if we need to change to suit our students. I have organised trips and get our ex.curricular groups to compete in music festivals. I have attended Inset courses. My HOD says I am ready to run a department and I feel ready too. However, a member of the SLT (who said he would give me a refernece should I need one), suggested it might be easier to gain a HOD job if I side stepped into another classroom teacher job first. What do you think?
  2. cmf


    One must wonder why you are doing all the work now? how much guidence are you getting while doing all the work, and, is this guidence correct? Finally, do you really want the pressure at this time of change?
  3. dropje

    dropje New commenter

    Do it. You sound like you are already doing a lot of the work so get paid for it!! What have you got to loose?
  4. If you can find a hod job that pays! So many schools seem to be offering hod jobs for nil points in return. Especially if its a one person department as so many are. Ignore the SLT advice. Music departments work differently to large departments like maths or science or english. I see know reason to side step when you already have so much experience which I assume your current hod would vouch for. What does that HOD do, by the way?..
  5. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    It sounds to me as if the OP works in the independent sector. I wonder, in that case, how many years experience she has? In a major public school, where they may well be four or more full-time staff, it is unusual to appoint someone who is still fairly new to the profession to lead a department. At the other end of the spectrum, in a very small indie there may hardly be enough to fill the timetable of one person, especially if there is no A level music, which may be why it was suggested she make a sideways move first. I don't think that is particularly good advice, though.
  6. Yes I do work in an independent and you guessed correctly that I don't have a lot of experience. This is my second year teaching (I was teaching privately for 8 years prior to the classroom move, but I really don't think that counts toward anything regarding school applications). To answer the earlier question, what does my HOD actually do: she does the music tech A level, shares the music A level, AS level and 3 GCSE classes with me and takes one KS3 class. In short, she does the bits that she likes. I'm ok with that, we all have to start somewhere and I quite enjoy the diversity (don't get me wrong, it's nice to break it up with the older exam classes!). I suppose we share the role - she at least talks me through everything and gives me a voice. If she wasn't doing so then I wouldn't know that I could do it.
    Thanks for the advice regarding ignoring the SLT advice. Personally, I am in no rush to leave a good school if I don't have a good job to go to.
    Is there any advice that anyone recomends in regard to anything else that I could do in order to get experience or show ability to run a department (beyond the obvious inset courses)?
    I appreciate your comments. Thank you very much.
  7. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I wouldn't dismiss those 8 years too lightly. In all three of the independent schools in which I worked, there were some full-time staff who undertook some individual coaching in addition to classroom teaching. Even as Director of Music, I coached some individual pupils in my own speciality (organ). And quite apart from that, experience of individual teaching is enormously helpful in HoD posts that may require you to lead 30 or more peripatetic teachers. I'd regard your experience in that field as an enormous asset that you should emphasise, not discount, in applications.
    I think that's a very sensible attitude to take. Even in my own case, which I think many would regard as relatively fast promotion, I spent my first four years as number 3 in a department, and was then promoted to Assistant Director of Music in a different school for several years, before being appointed HoD in a third school. And that was in the days when jobs were much more plentiful than they are now.
    I have to say that it could simply be the need to get more years under your belt. There are some "short cuts", such as being willing to undertake boarding duties, but those of us who have done this will caution that the job takes over your life during term time, especially when combined with music, which is not everyone's cup of tea.
    Other than that, I recommend that you study job ads carefully. Certainly in the top HMC schools there is likely to be the need for some musical specialization - choral, orchestral, running chapel music, jazz bands, or academic music, supervising music technology, running chamber music, mounting productions of operas and musicals, and so on. It can also be useful to have worked as a GCSE, A-level or ABRSM examiner - schools tend to think that this gives some insight that will be useful to their results, although I'm more doubtful, and will say that it can involves a lot of poorly paid work. It's a greasy pole to climb, I'm afraid!

  8. Not a lot to add to what has already been said, but perhaps you might consider the Directors of Music preparation course which is run at the MMA conference each year? It can sometimes be a little full of old hacks letting you know about their careers (Ralph Allwood and others) but from what I understand it is quite useful. It shows initiative on your part as well. Conference is at the end of may this year in Rugby. http://www.mma-online.org.uk/?p=652
  9. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    That's a bit unfair on Ralph. The Times described him as "the finest trainer of young choirs in the country today" and he was awarded an MBE for services to choral music in this year's New Years honours list.
    Anyway, old hacks or not, I have also heard that the MMA courses are useful.
  10. Apologies Florian, I didn't mean to offend. My point was merely that the expertise on display might not be the most up to date or forward looking.

    As to the venerable Ralph, I'm really not sure that The Times or Her Majesty are the judges I would rely on for that accolade. Turning a group of former cathedral choristers and highly trained musicians into a passable choir doesn't constitute a service to choral music and I include the Eton Choral courses in that.

    Those of us who fashion award winning choirs out of virtual non-musicians are the real trainers.
  11. In answer to the OP, I think Florian's suggestion about the size of departments is good. You would be better moving into a larger department to gain experience, possibly including official responsibility for an area of the curriculum. By the looks of things you also need to be sure which stage you are focusing on as well? Competition for Director of Music posts at Senior schools is very intense and a significant level of experience is expected. Good luck.
  12. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    You are perhaps not aware that he is Musical Director of the National Youth Choir of Wales, and that he runs Inner Voices (members of which come only from state schools)?
  13. I'm in a department of 1.5 staff. Interviewed as the .5, as an NQT. HoD left later that year. A restructure for next academic year meaning HoD roles don't exist meant an interview for a faculty role which I successfully gained. Steep steep learning curve! I'd love your experience! Go for it!!!
  14. With all due respect to the previous two posts the difference between state and independent are considerable. Having taught in both, this really shouldn't be underestimated. There are few if any one person departments, no TLRs and the role of Director of Music is substantially different to a HoD of a state school department, not more or less demanding, just different. I am only on a 40% timetable because of all the other demands of the job and I have eight full time staff and thirty-five visiting staff. I wasn't suggesting moving schools for the sake of it, but taking on some responsibility, such as an Assistant DoM role or i/c GCSE or A level for instance which is much more common in the independent sector. For a Senior School DoM post anyone with less than two or three years heading a department is unlikely to get an interview. The number and calibre of applicants is incredibly high. "Go for it" by all means, but perhaps getting a range of really good experience and being completely ready for the job has a lot to be said for it as well.

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