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thick skin

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by neanderthal, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. I've been Deputy Head in a small private school for sometime and am part of SMT. I've been promoted to Head from August 2011. Most of the staff had signed new contracts before my appointment was made known. For 90% this is fine - they are very, very supportive and, despite my relative youth compared to previous Heads, generally happy with the appointment (at least superficially!), parents are almost universally behind my appointment (i am a parent of a child in a lower part of the school and am 'friends' with many parents in so much as I drop my own daughter off at their houses and have a cup of tea) and, obviously, the board are happy. However... the odd staff member is not so supportive. I've normally quite a pragmatist and recognise this is pretty normal. But one of them is SMT (and obvious candidate for DH). He arrived as I was appointed DH but is older and more qualified (in particular I don't have an MA) and rather obviously feels he was the better choice for DH and now for Head. (I was interviewed comprehensively by the board, but was 'invited' to. He was not invited to interview) He has made it clear he is leaving at the end of next year (which makes it difficult to appoint him as DH) but I'm already very, very nervous about being undermined from within. He is a professional and a decent teacher and I'm trusting his better nature, but already I've felt that he is waiting for me to fail, and consequently, would like to help me do so by disagreeing with a lot of decisions in a "i wouldn't have done that" / "shrug of the shoulders" kind of way. My question: Anyone else been in this position? How important is it to have a supportive team? Did it take you time to build a team around yourselves anyway?
  2. FYI: There are other members of the SMT. One in particular is supportive but the complete opposite to me. We often disagree but it's in approach only (he likes to charge in and react / I'm more thoughtful and hands-off). As a team, it works well!
  3. Are these two the only ones on your SMT? It sounds like stags locking horns! Having to begin leading a school with these two by your side is not the best start. Firstly can you recruit another member who is really behind you whom is loyal and whom you can trust? This would be useful back up. You can't carry on being undermined. There is enough to do without that. Did you try challenging this person after these unhelpful comments aside after the meeting? You must log what he says and speak to him about it every time. If you can win him over by asking for his input, getting to know him and giving him the floor in a meeting at times, he might respond well. If not, ask him to stop it or come off SMT. Plan meetings carefully so that you have allies ready to support you beforehand. Be assertive and remember who got the job! Many of us face such challenges but it's only a tiny part of the job & keep it in perspective.
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Presumably the DH post will be decided by the Gov Body? Nobble one of them and say that you are concerned because he has stated his intention to leave, but of course you aren't sure about this. Suggest might be a good idea to explore this point with all interviewees, as having continuity in the job would obviously be desirable.
    I should guess that most Heads don't . . .
    Keep that friends in quotes - I don't need to tell you how important it is for you to be - and to be seen to be - totally neutral as regards any individual sets of parents. I would be wary even about accepting any informal approaches over that cup of tea about problems - get them to do it all via proper channels. You don't want word to get around that you can be"got at" over the Typhoo.
    As for your main problem, it may be less than you fear, as many staff will be sharp enough to recognise the sour grapes in your colleague's shrugs and reactions.
    Well done for getting that job - being Head is the best job in the world! But you'll need the holidays . . .
    All the best
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Workshops. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
    New <u>Job Seminars</u> on Sunday 26 June.
    Probably more in the early autumn ready for the next lot of job ads to come out. Keep an eye out for the dates!

    A new <u>Moving into Headship and SLT</u> seminar is on 18 June.
    See the full programme www.tes.co.uk/careerseminars

    E-mail Julia on advice@tsleducation.com for how to book a meeting with me personally.Look forward to seeing you!
  5. I don't want to 'bump' this thread up, but thanks everyone for the advice. I do suspect I'm worrying excessively about something that may be less of an issue than I fear. The idea of keeping a log makes sense - particularly if it comes to a point where I do need to challenge and point out the negativity. Thanks all!
  6. My kids go to school with me which for me works well too. Most parents we have got to know are lovely and know the boundary between work and friendship. I find them very generous and discreet.

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