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Moving from State School HoD to independent HoD

Discussion in 'Independent' started by cork227, Feb 2, 2020.

  1. cork227

    cork227 New commenter

    Hi all,

    I'm currently HoD in a state school looking at applying for a HoD role in an independent school. Would anyone else who's made a similar move be able to give some advice? What did you find to be the main differences in managing an independent department compared to a state school department?

    In my view, a key role of a HoD is driving the department forward, but looking at the department in question, they already have amazing results, good uptake, and a really impressive extra-curricular offering, so I'm wondering where I would be able to add value. Would anyone have any advice?
    jarndyce likes this.
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Check they are still in the TPS and have no plans to withdraw.
    MrsBridgewater and cork227 like this.
  3. cork227

    cork227 New commenter

    Excellent suggestion! They are (according to job description) and will ask if they've plans to withdraw at interview.
  4. citruspers

    citruspers New commenter

    I’ve worked in both (although admittedly only as HOD in the indy sector).

    The biggest difference for me is the expectation for extracurricular activities and such like. For example I lose a good chunk of my Saturdays this term with a hockey team.

    In terms of managing colleagues I have found that it can be tricky to ask people to give up their time for the department when they are already giving so much to the school in other areas.
  5. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I've only worked in the independent sector, but I would say that the role of the HoD is much more strategic, with less hands-on supervision of staff. Things such as getting the best possible staff in the first place, resourcing of the department, demonstrating the need for ancilliary staff (technicians, administrators etc), helping to plan new buildings, promoting the school through the work of one's own department, and so on. Obviously, curriculum planning is important (as in any school), but great diplomacy is needed if you have staff who have worked there successfully for a great many years. In my last HoD role I got the department staff together at the beginning of my first term to ask what they most needed - the results were, by and large, easy to implement - especially as indy heads tend to be quite generous with resources in one's first year or two - especially since one ancient retainer made a heart-felt plea for "no more changes!".

    Be careful over "driving the department forward" (at least outside of interviews). Many good departments in the independent sector virtually drive themselves and don't always welcome new brooms.
  6. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Agree fully that the phrasing "drive the dept forward" is likely to be a poor choice. You have a fair chance of having staff in your dept who have worked there for 10, 20 or more years and who have highly responsible roles elsewhere in the school, as senior leaders or on the pastoral side. Some will be on second careers, too - I've worked with people who have been merchant bankers, naval officers who have commanded their own ships, army officers who have fought in battle, lawyers, international athletes and others. These people don't take kindly to being driven - they expect to be provided with the tools to do their job, they expect to be consulted and their expertise appreciated, they expect to be led. They also expect their HoD to be well informed and able to answer their questions!
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    But how much more fun is this than losing a chunk of Saturdays for pointless colour coded planning and purple pen marking?! :)
    Faidha and sabrinakat like this.
  8. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Indeed! On many occasions I've thought - this is a wonderful experience, and they are paying me for this as well!
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    LOL I think that about theatre trips and the like.
    I am being paid to watch a fab show in a London theatre AND don't have to worry about how the heck I'm going to get home!
    It's just fab...if you don't mind it more or less being your life in term time.
    sabrinakat likes this.
  10. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I do loads of trips and activities, e.g Tower of London INSET; trips to Greece and Rome, etc. All paid for, so I don't mind too much the effort of planning and sorting, etc.
  11. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    We need to do some CPD by swapping jobs for a short time.:)

    Have to say the move to primary age and then EYFS does result in a less exciting range of trips.
    We are going to two local play parks and a further away fancy pants one with a picnic in the spring.
    sabrinakat and jarndyce like this.
  12. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    Biggest piece of advice: Never, ever, ever start a sentence in a department meeting with "In the state sector, we...";)

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