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New to Headship

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by mms1, Dec 25, 2016.

  1. mms1

    mms1 Occasional commenter

    Hi all,

    I've taken the plunge into the exciting world of headship and will be taking up the post in January.
    Term begins with two inset days, one of which I have had very little to do with, the other being my own. They've just had their OFSTED and did very well so don't want to hit the wrong note.
    I'm hoping that some of you will have some advice as to how best I should use those first days, I'm concious that it would be fruitless leading on CPD when I have no real idea of the needs of the staff with regard to teaching and learning. I am inclined to introduce myself and the principles that will guide me as their head and then use the bulk of the time to meet staff 1:1.

    Any thoughts or personal experience would be appreciated.

    Merry Xmas!
  2. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    I became a head two years ago now. I too had 1:1 meetings with staff on the first INSET day.
    I now wish I had also asked the staff what they wanted for the future of their school, what they wanted to improve etc.
    Good luck in January and merry Christmas.
  3. mms1

    mms1 Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the reply, I'll certainly see how best to include that.

    Merry Xmas
  4. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    Introduce yourself as HT, congratulate them on their successful OFSTED and tell them your plans for the year ahead. You want to get the staff on your side from day 1, be that inspirational leader.
    You could also buy a box of biscuits / cake for the staff room but that is obligatory.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  5. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    A sound start.

    I suggest you start with a short whole staff meeting during which you can introduce yourself and ask the staff to do the same. Congratulate the staff on the results of the Ofsted inspection. Run through the calendar for the term making it clear when staff will be expected to be in after school (any twighlights or parent's consultations already planned - do not introduce anything new). Give an opportunity for staff to ask questions. (The inevitable question is "What will you change?" The smart answer is "What do you feel needs changing?")

    Say that you want to meet all staff on a 1:1 basis to better understand their current contributions to the success of the school and their future needs and aspirations. Let them know this will be by a sign-up sheet either on a staff room notice board or (preferably) through the school office. Make sure the programme allows several opportunities for you to walk around the school, meeting staff in their rooms (I.e., on their home ground) and be sociable, commenting favourably on wall displays, etc.

    Round off by saying that, as professionals, they will best know how to fill their time preparing for the pupils' return. Day One of the pupils' term should be as normally timetabled.

    I found it useful to let staff know that my office door would only be closed when I was in conference or engaged in a critically important task. All other times it was open as my job as HT was to help and support them do their job as teacher.

    One last thing - TEACH, even if for only one lesson each week. You should never ask one of the staff to do something you are not prepared to do yourself and it helps you to keep your expectations of staff (planning, preparation, delivery and marking) realistic as well as giving you credibility as a teacher, being able to demonstrate good practice rather than just refer to it.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
  6. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

  7. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    Make sure you are on the duty rota. Do one of the horrible ones and turn up for it.
    install and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  8. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Make sure you make full use of the governing body. The chair will probably be privy to some things others will not or cannot disclose.Minutes of the last governor meetings could be invaluable.
    By the by I have recently been wondering if some heads have been inspired by books they have read or people in the public domain. My father was a teacher but the only books he had relating to education were "Goodnight Mr Chips" and "Sommerville " by the head - A.S.Neil.
    nomad likes this.
  9. reg1950

    reg1950 New commenter

    "Summerhill" :)
    Lara mfl 05 and nomad like this.
  10. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Summerhill, actually.

    You could add to those "To Serve Them All My Days" by R F Delderfield.
  11. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    It was a long time ago that I read it - probably about the same time I was reading Superman who lived in Smallville. I got the surname a bit wrong too - it was A.S.Neill (2 ells). Nice to know there are still proof readers out there.
    nomad and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  12. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    And when you do teach do not cherry pick your classes. The best heads I worked for took the difficult groups no one wanted. It's only once or twice a week but it takes the pressure off those of who are in the classroom all the time.
    install and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  13. nomad

    nomad Star commenter


    Teach the class for which you are the best teacher for the pupils, (taking into account your experience, subject knowledge, qualifications and disciplinary skills). Ideally this should apply to every teacher, not just to yourself.

    For the first couple of terms, however, you may not be able to do this, the timetable having already been set. So just teach some classes on a carousel basis which will help you to get to know the pupils.
  14. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    So who teaches the difficult ones? I hate heads who pick up the odd a level group or the top set. They are supposed to be experienced practitioners. The best heads I worked for took on things like phse which no one wanted and most had to do . Alternatively another said to his department, Sort yourselves out first, i'll fit in where you have got gaps. He would end up teaching a normal lower school class as ks3 formed the bulk of that department s timetable. The worst slt members I have known have insisted on top sets and small sets with little marking. Zero respect!
    install likes this.
  15. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    That would depend on more than just being the HT.

    I note from your uploaded resources that you teach German or, at least, are proficient in that subject. There would be little point in me teaching German to a class of 'difficult' pupils since the only German I know I picked up from watching 'The Great Escape' and reading 'The Eagle' comic when I was a kid. I doubt I would be any more successful in doing so than you would in teaching Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia or Bahasa Malay (the languages in which I am fairly proficient). My teaching subjects, however, are mathematics and the three sciences.

    Before retirement from headship I did teach PSHE (amongst other subjects) which, to be honest, requires little subject knowledge and I was never fazed about the sex and relationships aspect of the subject. Something which I was aware some other staff found uncomfortable teaching.

    My advice to the OP in post #13 remains unchanged as, indeed, it does in my other posts.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
    Lara mfl 05 and digoryvenn like this.
  16. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    As a head? I assume you realise that the same pupils are often difficult wherever they are and the point I am making is that these are the groupse which slt should be prepared to take on. I find the tone of the reply a tad strange and as for looking at my resources - well that is just weird !!
    install likes this.
  17. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    Don't you want people to view your resources? I thought that is the reason why people upload them.
    Nothing wrong with Nomad's replies or posts.
  18. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    install likes this.
  19. mms1

    mms1 Occasional commenter

    I hope my thread hasn't started something? Thank you so much for all your replies and I am comforted to see so many of them reinforce my initial thoughts.
    nomad likes this.
  20. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    I am not sure what the "horrible" ones would be.

    Certainly there will be duties which are considered by staff to be better or worse than others according to individual preference and a HT should urge whoever puts the duty rota together to try to take these into account. My advice to the OP on duties is actually not to be included on the duty rota but to 'double up' when and where appropriate to support those staff who are on duty. It gives an opportunity to see which areas are discipline hot spots, such as the dining hall.

    One area you (the OP) should try to be on a regular basis is welcoming pupils on and seeing them off the premises at the start and end of school. 'Bookending' in this manner really does help with discipline expectations - I speak from experience.

    Try not to do a morning break duty. Reason? There is a lot to be gained from letting staff know that you are available every morning in the staff room to help staff with any minor issues without them having to search you out during their coffee break. Conversely, let them know you will keep out of the staff room during the lunch break in order to give them space to have a moan if they need it without feeling compromised.


    Maintaining discipline in the classroom is the responsibility of all teachers and the expectations are comprehensively included in the Teachers' Standards (Section 7). A good HT will help teachers achieve this rather than take that responsibility for them.

    Not at all.

    I wish you well in your new job.

    Do feel free to PM me if you would like to discuss anything off these boards.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
    digoryvenn and Lara mfl 05 like this.

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