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What does it really take to become the Head of a School?

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by TheoGriff, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    One essential for being a Head is an incredibly thick skin.

    You may have all number of great personal and professional skill and experiences, but as far as parents and staff are concerned, you are fair game for anything to be thrown at you. And you are always to blame for everything!

    Having said that, I am pleased that a Newby is already thinking of the future. Yes, as Middlemarch says, get the good teaching experience. Volunteer to take on extra responsibilities to see if you like that. If you are a mature entrant (i.e. have some experience outside teaching) you may already have experience of responsibility, of co-ordinating the work of others, even of management. All to the good! If not, then that is your first step, getting that experience of responsibility and management in education. Deputy Head of Department, or Co-ordinator of a subject in a Primary School, are good first steps.

    Whether you are Primary or Secondary <u>will </u>make a difference; it's a shorter journey from teacher to Head in Primary (and a little less stressful, if only because there are fewer parents and fewer staff throwing things at you), but there are often fewer opportunities to take on responsibilities or take up a management role in Primary, just because the schools are smaller. But there are more Primary schools so more jobs.

    There is a need for Heads at present and over the next 10 years; I seem to remember reading somewhere that 50% of Heads are aged over 50, so that means that at least 50% are likely to retire in the next decade. What it will be like after then, I cannot tell because I dropped my crystal ball yesterday.

    Currently TES is advertising 498 posts as Head, of which 366 are in Primary schools. There are also 333 Deputy Head vacancies, 189 in Primaries. Not only are there more jobs available in primary, but also, I hear, fewer applicants per post. My sister who is a Governor of a state Primary has said that, talking to Govs at other schools, the average application numbers is under 5 . . .

    Hope this year goes well for you, and good luck for the future.

  2. piedwarbler

    piedwarbler New commenter

    That comment about the precarious nature of the job is a bit sobering. Surely if you thought like that for very long you wouldn't sleep at night? How do you keep it all in perspective?
  3. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    To be honest, there are many times (and often quite long periods) when you don't. As a head, I've suffered some lengthy periods of acute anxiety which affected my health and home life, as well as making me not so nice to work with. My team were fantastic and so supportive, but it was deeply unpleasant for too long a time, I can tell you.

    The week before one impending Ofsted (it was the old system, when they came for a week and you got six weeks' notice), I was almost paralysed with the fear and stress of it all - not helped by the fact that my partner was seriously ill and had just left hospital after a major operation. I remember going to a meeting on the Friday afternoon - Ofsted were coming that following Monday - and at the end, weeping copiously on my headteacher colleague's shoulder. He got a bottle of wine out and made me have a drink!

    The Ofsted turned out splendidly - but as a head, you tend constantly to fear the worst.
  4. Said with tounge incheek :-
    the Dame who is the subject of this thread didn't seem to be the sort of person who got stressed and it seems was allowed to award herself and those she favoured substantial rewards.

    Should effective people be allowed to break the rules?

    (Who despite having mixed with some of the posters here was allowed to self promote while abuseing others ) - It would be interesting to hear their opinions now that some of hte realit is in the public domain and why the signs were not recognised earlier.
    Then there are the ones who fit the specification in the OP here
    <h3>Is your boss a psychopath or a narcissist</h3>I imagine the same lady would have ticked many of the boxes

    Then there is the self proclaimes Strong leaders
    <h3>Strong leaders --- Do you work for a boss who make such claims about themself ?</h3>then there is one of the the climbing the greasy pole threads

    <h3>"Have you ever thought about going for a promoted post ?"</h3>
    Now with tounge out of the cheek.

    It might be more sensible to first establish yourself as a teacher and secure a permanent contract first. The reality is that the best HT's are not ambitious but more modest individuals while the most abusivehave stepped on people all the way to the top.

  5. Get a life, a19pb. You are just alienating people all over the forums.
  6. You're entitled to your opinion but it might be more appropriate if you allowed others to speak for themselves.

    My agenda is totally transparent - to help people understand how bullying in the workplace operates. The people who are the worst offenders will clearly suffer detriment if they find it harder to manipulate and abuse others. Do you have a problem with that?

    What is your agenda - Are you suggesting concern for my wellbeing?
    I make mistakes but I do my best. What about you?

  7. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I started the thread you refer to here, a19pb. I also 'mixed' with the ex-head you refer to in your comment (though being in her presence at meetings isn't what I'd call 'mixing' in any meaningful sense). I can tell you that the 'signs' you mention were well-known in the city/LA concerned, but political influence goes a long, long way.

    Quite what you think any of those who 'mixed' with this person in the manner I've described could actually do about the 'signs', I'm not sure. I could tell you on PM what was done to me to try and shut me up, though.
  8. MM - thanks, I'd be interested to hear about the tactics usedby the Dame.

    Re what people who recognise the signs can do.
    I imagine that this Dame presented herself and her school as Utopia and that some people listened avidly to the advice and perspective she offered. However the more decent people (like I believe you to be) who are able to ask the difficult questions and to check the reality rather than the spin, the better. Exposing the imposters for what they are is not easy without putting potentially (unjustified) negative focus on oneself is not easy but neither is it impossible.
    So back to my same old sermon (not for you but for new readers) - All should be educated in recognising and countering bullying behaviours in the workplace.
    Thanks again for the offered insight.

  9. While there lots of genuinely good and effective HT, too many abusive types manage to get positions of power over others. Once established and with a support network in place a toxic working environment will be created. Many in the establishment will adapt to survive and not recognise the bullying that is going on about them and which they actually, by default, condone.
    We should all be aware of the checklists below which describes personality traits associated with these abusive types. If your boss comes to mind when reading them, start learning about workplace bullying.

    Some Characteristics of Narcissism:

    &middot; Grandiosity.
    &middot; Selfishness, though often well-concealed under a fa&ccedil;ade of consideration.
    &middot; Feelings of nervousness, emptiness, or irritation when not at the center of attention.
    &middot; Envious, especially toward the very people who offer desperately-needed narcissistic supplies like
    admiration, praise, or affection.
    &middot; Aggressiveness.
    &middot; Uneven perfectionism: must have total order in some areas of life while others are chaotic.
    &middot; Prone to narcissistic wounding (ego injury); intolerant of certain kinds of criticism.
    &middot; Retaliatory tendencies; signs of narcissistic rage, whether suppressed or acted out.
    &middot; Abundant rational-seeming justifications for abusing those perceived to inflict such an injury.
    &middot; Largely or entirely guiltless about the harm done to others in revenge for such injuries.
    &middot; Alternates between passivity and domination.
    &middot; Under a fragile and inflated ego, disavowed emptiness, depression, sadness, and insignificance.
    &middot; Feels entitled to special considerations, whether actually earned or not.
    &middot; Paranoia, blaming, victim-thinking.
    &middot; Lack of empathy, though skilled at pretending to empathize and understand.
    &middot; Cold-eyed charm.
    &middot; Arrogance, whether overt or covert; tends to be harshly judgmental of others.
    &middot; Extremely manipulative
    &middot; Controlling
    &middot; Overly concerned with surface indicators of social importance
    &middot; Unable to be objective or feel empathy when angry; has trouble separating thoughts from feelings.
    &middot; Expects automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
    &middot; Unlimited and unrealistic sense of specialness.

    Some characteristics of phychopathy

    is a convincing, practised liar and when called to account, will make
    up anything spontaneously to fit their needs at that moment
    . has a
    Jekyll and Hyde nature - is vile, vicious and vindictive in private, but
    innocent and charming in front of witnesses; no-one can (or wants to)
    believe this individual has a vindictive nature - only the current
    target of the serial bully's aggression sees both sides; whilst the
    Jekyll side is described as "charming" and convincing enough to deceive
    personnel, management and a tribunal, the Hyde side is frequently
    described as "evil"; Hyde is the real person, Jekyll is an act

    . excels at deception and should never be underestimated in their capacity to deceive

    uses excessive charm and is always plausible and convincing when peers,
    superiors or others are present (charm can be used to deceive as well
    as to cover for lack of empathy)

    . is glib, shallow and superficial with plenty of fine words and lots of form - but there's no substance

    is possessed of an exceptional verbal facility and will outmanoeuvre
    most people in verbal interaction, especially at times of conflict

    . is often described as smooth, slippery, slimy, ingratiating, fawning, toadying, obsequious, sycophantic

    relies on mimicry, repetition and regurgitation to convince others that
    he or she is both a "normal" human being and a tough dynamic manager,
    as in extolling the virtues of the latest management fads and pouring
    forth the accompanying jargon

    . is unusually skilled in being able to anticipate what people want to hear and then saying it plausibly

    . cannot be trusted or relied upon

    . fails to fulfil commitments

    is emotionally *** with an arrested level of emotional
    development; whilst language and intellect may appear to be that of an
    adult, the bully displays the emotional age of a five-year-old

    . is emotionally immature and emotionally untrustworthy

    exhibits unusual and inappropriate attitudes to sexual matters, sexual
    behaviour and bodily functions; underneath the charming exterior there
    are often suspicions or hints of sex discrimination and sexual
    harassment, perhaps also sexual dysfunction, sexual inadequacy, sexual
    perversion, sexual violence or sexual abuse

    . in a relationship, is incapable of initiating or sustaining intimacy

    holds deep prejudices (eg against the opposite gender, people of a
    different sexual orientation, other cultures and religious beliefs,
    foreigners, etc - prejudiced people are unvaryingly unimaginative) but
    goes to great lengths to keep this prejudicial aspect of their
    personality secret

    . is self-opinionated and displays arrogance,
    audacity, a superior sense of entitlement and sense of invulnerability
    and untouchability

    . has a deep-seated contempt of clients in contrast to his or her professed compassion

    is a control freak and has a compulsive need to control everyone and
    everything you say, do, think and believe; for example, will launch an
    immediate personal attack attempting to restrict what you are permitted
    to say if you start talking knowledgeably about psychopathic personality
    or antisocial personality disorder in their presence - but aggressively
    maintains the right to talk (usually unknowledgeably) about anything
    they choose; serial bullies despise anyone who enables others to see
    through their deception and their mask of sanity

    . displays a
    compulsive need to criticise whilst simultaneously refusing to value,
    praise and acknowledge others, their achievements, or their existence

    . shows a lack of joined-up thinking with conversation that doesn't flow and arguments that don't hold water

    . flits from topic to topic so that you come away feeling you've never had a proper conversation

    . refuses to be specific and never gives a straight answer

    . is evasive and has a Houdini-like ability to escape accountability

    undermines and destroys anyone who the bully perceives to be an
    adversary, a potential threat, or who can see through the bully's mask

    . is adept at creating conflict between those who would otherwise collate incriminating information about them

    . is quick to discredit and neutralise anyone who can talk knowledgeably about antisocial or sociopathic behaviors

    may pursue a vindictive vendetta against anyone who dares to held them
    accountable, perhaps using others' resources and contemptuous of the
    damage caused to other people and organisations in pursuance of the

    . is also quick to belittle, undermine, denigrate and
    discredit anyone who calls, attempts to call, or might call the bully to

    . gains gratification from denying people what they are entitled to

    . is highly manipulative, especially of people's perceptions and emotions (eg guilt)

    .poisons peoples' minds by manipulating their perceptions

    .when called upon to share or address the needs and concerns of others, responds with impatience, irritability and aggression

    .is arrogant, haughty, high-handed, and a know-all

    has an overwhelming, unhealthy and narcissistic attention-seeking need
    to portray themselves as a wonderful, kind, caring and compassionate
    person, in contrast to their behaviour and treatment of others; the
    bully sees nothing wrong with their behavior and chooses to remain
    oblivious to the discrepancy between how they like to be seen and how
    they are seen by others

    . is spiritually dead although may loudly profess some religious belief or affiliation

    . is mean-spirited, officious, and often unbelievably petty

    .is mean, stingy, and financially untrustworthy

    .is greedy, selfish, a parasite and an emotional vampire

    . is always a taker and never a giver

    is convinced of their superiority and has an overbearing belief in
    their qualities of leadership but cannot distinguish between leadership
    (maturity, decisiveness, assertiveness, co-operation, trust, integrity)
    and bullying (immaturity, impulsiveness, aggression, manipulation,
    distrust, deceitfulness)

    . often fraudulently claims
    qualifications, experience, titles, entitlements or affiliations which
    are ambiguous, misleading, or bogus

    . often misses the semantic
    meaning of language, misinterprets what is said, sometimes wrongly
    thinking that comments of a satirical, ironic or general negative nature
    apply to him or herself

    . knows the words but not the song

    . is constantly imposing on others a false reality made up of distortion and fabrication

    sometimes displays a seemingly limitless demonic energy especially when
    engaged in attention-seeking activities or evasion of accountability
    and is often a committeeaholic or apparent workaholic

    Please think about it if you havn't before.
  10. haven't before.
  11. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Why have you upped a two year old thread, a19pb?
  12. Why do you ask Nomad?
  13. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    I am interested to know why you hijacked the OP's thread two years ago and then, two years later, resurrect it and hijack the thread again.
    Perhaps that could be interpreted as bullying behaviour.
    The OP was asking for advice, not an exhaustive list of what you consider to be narcicistic tendencies.
  14. Nomad - Why even pretend you are interested ?
  15. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    I repeat. I am interested to know why you hijacked the OP's thread two years ago and then, two years later, resurrect it and hijack the thread again.
    Perhaps that could be interpreted as bullying behaviour.
    The OP was asking for advice, not an exhaustive list of what you consider to be narcicistic tendencies.
  16. Nomad, i'm not convinced re your sincerity. In the few years i have been pushing workplace bullying awareness on these forums, you, have made it very clear that you dislike what i do, how i choose to do it and to my knowledge you have never agreed with anything i have said.
    It was you who rightly labelled me a 'One Trick Pony'.
    Or had you forgotten?

  17. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    I am VERY sincere in asking you why you hijacked the OP's thread two years ago and then, two years later, resurrect it and hijack the thread again. Perhaps that could be interpreted as bullying behaviour.
    The OP was asking for advice, not an exhaustive list of what you consider to be narcicistic tendencies.
  18. Although I am not a head or even SMT I do enjoy coming on these threads and seeing things from heads' perspectives. What I enjoy far less is when a19pb comes on and repeats him/herself about bullying. Yes it's extremely important. But had *** all to do with the OP, and I am sad that their thread got hijacked in this way.
  19. fulloffun

    fulloffun New commenter

    I agree with you Shalala.I too was following the thread and now have completely lost the plot!
  20. Keighleigh

    Keighleigh New commenter

    I agree, thread totally hijacked. So annoying.

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