Two recent headlines stirred the sinews and provided an unwelcome boost to blood pressure:
‘Education leaders demand inclusion of business professionals in senior leadership meetings’
‘Newly qualified teachers report higher levels of wellbeing and life satisfactionthan other graduates, but are more likely to say their hard work is unrewarded, research has found. The academic behind the research urged the Government to make teachers feel valued to stem a recruitment crisis in the profession’
At first glance they could seem to be entirely unconnected, but I sense a commonality of DNA in that they are both speak to a weakness in management and leadership skills within the education sectors.
Now, this is not to allocate blame except to those who are responsible for educating and training teachers in the first place. There is absolutely no reason why an excellent, highly motivated and personable teacher should find his or her way (should it be ‘their’ way?) into a school’s senior management team and automatically know how to manage the complex individuals who make up their teaching staff.
There is no reason why a Head should be able to understand all the complexities of employment law, health and safety, contract law, marketing, people management and motivation, financial ratios, cash flow and all the other complexities that make up the modern independent school. Many do, of course, but only because they have done the job for many years and have devoted much of their lives to finding it all out. Sometimes the lessons have been hard learned and as anyone who has faced an even half -justified employment grievance will know, this can be expensive experience.
Governors can play an important role when they bring a wide and wise background from a range of industries but they are usually busy and not always as engaged as the Head might like. He might also feel that he should be able to cope without bothering them.
The first of the quotes should be a reminder that Heads should be groomed for the role and receive structured training to enable them to cope without having to involve expensive ‘business professionals’. The second seeks to involve government (and what do they know?) in the motivation and management of newcomers to the industry. These folk will usually be young, idealistic and highly motivated – that’s what you get when you work with young people. Please don’t waste all that by allowing them to be gradually disillusioned by senior management staff who have no idea about leading people because they have never had the chance to learn. That’s a job for schools not government and as we have said before, money won’t fix the problem on its own.
We can help of course.