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Primary Headteacher - how long?

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by cd556, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. If someone is successful and driven enough, how long would it take (generally speaking) to become a headteacher? Is there a typical path of progression? i.e. classroom teacher > assistant head > head ?
  2. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    I'm not a head but I know quite a few! I've known someone go from NQT to HT in seven years - that's the quickest but about ten years is more common
    Typical route amongst the heads that I know:
    1) class teacher - typically only spending two years at this level
    2) promoted post - e.g. leading a Key Stage, SENCO or leading Maths/Literacy
    3) Deputy Head
    4) Headteacher
    The only thing I would add is to look at your people management skills - if they aren't good, you shouldn't be a head.

  3. I did it in 8 years with maternity leave in the 5th year.
    1) class teacher - spent one year at this level
    2) promoted post - e.g. leading a Key Stage, leading Literacy and AST (5 years but leading KS1 and KS2 and teaching in Year 6 and Year 2)
    3) Deputy Head - 2 years
    4) Headteacher
    Question is what do you do for the next 35 years?!!?
  4. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    The question isn't necessarily how long, but how much experience?
    You need to move into a role which has a whole school impact. (For me it was senior teacher/senco/literacy co-ordinator)). And then you need to be able to show that you've made an impact too. After that you'll be ready for deputy headship - which is a whole different ball game altogether.I would also recommend moving schools as having all your experience in one school may not be a barrier to becoming a head (in the current recruitment crisis) but will limit your perspective.
    I taught in 5 schools, all very different, and also did some advisory work before becoming a head - it definitely gave me a good grounding - It's enabled me to use what I have seen in a range of settings, rather than trying to make my own school like the last one I worked in.
    This is a good point and one you need to consider. I can't honestly see myself doing this job in this school for the next 25+ years! I don't think that would be healthy. So, you do need to have an idea where you might go next if you make the move to headship early.
    I would concentrate on getting the widest range of experience that you can, in a variety of settings. Then you will be as prepared as you can be, and you might actually enjoy it more.
  5. I agree. I dont think I could sustain this for the next 35 years and that's how long it would be if I retire at 65!
    I have worked in 3 schools but had experience of other settings in my AST Role as I did a couple of terms in different schools - 12 in total.
    2 of the schools I worked in had a change of headteacher and that was really interesting to see how different people lead the same school / pupils / staff etc.
    Curlygirly has hit the nail on the head with getting the widest range of experience that you can and in a variety of settings.
  6. I did it the traditional way- class teacher,key stage leader, Deputy Head, break for 3 years with babies!! then , then assistant Head and now Head. This is also my 7th school. All my previous schools have been very different which has given me a huge bank of experiences to draw from. Headship is a very different role and I dont think I would have been as effective had I not had these experiences before. There is plenty of time, don't rush!!! Its a career not a race.
  7. OK, so what exactly do you mean here? Would it just be something tailored to your interests?
    • You need to work in a variety of different types of schools and with a variety of different types of people.

    • I have worked in a 30%, 60% and an 75% school (I did my PGCE in an 95% school) and it is interesting to see what the 95% and 75% schools do and don't do compared to the 30% school.

    • I have worked under 5 different heads and it is interesting to see what their leaderships styles are like.

    • I worked with an excellent head of department that shieled us all from everything, but didn't realise until I worked under heads of department who didn't do that.

    • I have worked with disruptive staff members and supportive staff members.

    • I have worked with people who are excellent and don't know and people who think they are excellent.

    • I have seen bullies and peacemakers.

    • I have learnt about data through people who understood it and people who don't.

    • I have seen lots of different management set ups.

    • I have met lots of different children and I am still working out what makes people tick.

    • Importantly I have seen a lot of different teaching styles and ideas about what makes a good lesson.

    • I have used lots of different schemes of work.

    • I have seen lots of different approaches to behaviour management systems.

    • I have seen different ways to deliver CPD and gage staff opinion.

    • I have learnt about raise online and FFT.

    • I have learnt about specifications and the role of the QCA
    Experience: you need it so that you can support your staff in their role, so that you understand what they might be facing and so that you can give advice and make decisions with the knowledge that you are saying something that will work.

    That is what I think curlygirl means - correct me if I am wrong.
  8. acertainsomething

    acertainsomething Occasional commenter

    In my experience the Heads who tend to struggle most are those career based teachers who spend too little time in the classroom. I can't remember who told me this on the NPQH but I was reminded that in your role you will be the second most important person to a child but a country mile behind a teacher. I often despair on those 'I did 1 year and then I got promoted teachers' they often have little to offer and have simply been effective hoop jumpers to get to the top. sadly they continue their slavishness to hoop jumping in the top jobs. Leadership requires a person to be all things to all men. Experience does not guarantee this but it might help. Make all aspiring Heads do the NPQH? Possibly. Make all aspiring heads have 10 years experience in the classroom? Definitely. My blood boils when I hear these Heads pontificating on the I am a Head at 30 look at me. They themselves are failed by a weak system that has allowed this nonsense.
  9. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    That pretty much summed up what I meant, sideshow. As much experience, across as wide a range of schools, classes, roles as possible.
    I don't think rushing into it helps anyone. I got my 1st deputy headship early in my career, when I felt I'd done all that I could at that school I moved to be a deputy of a much larger school. I found myselffielding lots of " why aren't you going for a headship?" questions. I am so glad I didn't, I learned so much in that second deputy headship, it was a totally, totally different job and I developed somany skills there. Nothing beats a range of experince. However I would add that time doesn't equal experience. One of my teaching staff has taught for 15 years, like me, and is the least experienced teacher I know because she has NEVER looked beyond her classroom.
  10. I agree with the need for experience. Experience in terms of experiences, not just time. Ten different years are worth much more than the same year ten times over.
  11. BoldAsBrass

    BoldAsBrass Occasional commenter

    Very interesting thread - I have been teaching for 14 years now. 5 schools (taking into account reorganisation including First to Infant to Primary to Infant then back to Primary) Worked for 7 Heads (all very different) Currently a Team Leader for EY and KS1(last 3 years), but just had a secondment as a DH to Infant school (2 terms) and just moved back to my school to be acting DH for 12 months.......I've taught from Nursery to Year 4 (no Year 5 or Year 6 yet and no desire to really, but will need to at some point I guess)
    Question is am I / will I be ready for Headship/NPQH withing the next year or so?????
    Answer, don't know! but probably ......
    What I do know is I am only 39, still love being in a classroom, but feel I have much more to offer. I am torn between being an effective classroom practitioner and an effective leader ........ what do I do? Jump too early? Just enjoy doing what I am doing?....... what I do know is there are far too many inexperienced Heads out there, progressing too early, without half the experience I have, who will burn themselves out before they are 50, so I think I will sit back and enjoy the experiences I am creating for myself. Whatever happens happens for a reason but I won't be breaking my neck to get to the top for a title I haven't yet earned / fully understood!
  12. I was a headteacher for 10 years.
    I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
  13. Know what you mean, dea, but it's different from school to school. And even then it changes over time (eventually!)
  14. Aaaah, but it was so good.....I had a lovely little school, I was the young visionary, wined and dined by a capricious LA ,mega high standards at school, nothing to worry about except who was buying pizza for the staff at parents evening....I loved my job. Then I was stupid and thought I could change the world.....and even more stupidly, thought I might be supported while I did it. I wasn't expecting thanks (ha ha ha)....but support at least.

    If I'd stayed put I'd be just be whiling away the time to a nice easy, well paid retirement.

    Instead I'm on the dole.
  15. I'm 41 and have worked in 5 schools in addition to a Learning Support Service and as a middle manager within an LEA. Currently undertaking my NPQH with a view to headship in 6-12 months( am a DHT in large primary) I think the breadth of experience is key-and have worked under a range of other HTs.
    Some of that work was part-time (three babies) and have also worked in special as well as primary & EY.......
    Good luck....

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