10 things in preparation for Headship

A very concise and thorough list from my friend prepschhead! Far more erudite than my contribution yesterday, this list gets to the heart of the significant points to consider in Headship. For me, numbers 3, 6 and 8 stand out as carrying the most weight and having the greatest bearing on one’s personal development as a Head.

Decide what your vision for education is.
Network and build up a support group.
Commit to the highest level of professionalism.

I was privileged to be with an outstanding group of fellow Heads at an annual dinner last night in IAPS district 1N. The dinner also marked the retirement from Headship of two wonderful educators and significant characters within Prep Schools. It is clear that successful Headship will also require character – not just in the personal attributes of resilience, perseverance, graciousness, etc. – but in being a figure that the community you lead can rally around. Not everyone can be a larger-than-life and ebullient individual, but there are other “characters” that Heads can be that inspire confidence, trust and a desire for affiliation. I met many last night and it is an aspect of Headship that must not be lost.

The school is you and you are the school, perhaps?


It was good to be with IAPS N1 Deputy Heads this afternoon and to be invited to contribute to the programme along with Neil Jones.

The first session focussed on preparation for Headship which is something I have posted on before; see previous posts.

Today I highlighted:
1. If you are a Deputy Head you should never feel compelled to be a Head. Some Deputy Heads continue to be fulfilled in their role and do not feel called to Headship. It is the right career progression for some, but not for all. Equally, there are other options and you should pursue what is right for you and your family.
2. Seek to gain as much practical experience as you can before becoming a Head. The angle of your learning curve will be proportionate to your experiences, so prepare well; it will enable you to start with greater confidence and self-assurance.

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Which came first the knowledge or the skills?

It has been SATs week in the Juniors and for Infant 3.  The children have taken assessments in English, Maths and Science and this year, for the first time, a Grammar paper was included.  A great deal of debate has raged over the separation of grammar and writing assessments.  Some believe that grammar ought to be assessed within the context of longer pieces, others that pure grammar knowledge (i.e. a separate test) would underpin improvement in writing.  But then, it is countered, there is less of an opportunity to apply knowledge if it is not seen as key to writing assessment.

You could try it if you are so inclined! http://bit.ly/17DCcr6

For me, there has to be balance in all things.  We have articulate, bright children whose grasp of language is strong.  We also value the knowledge of things, Mrs Elson’s Key facts for example, that provides a foundation for further enquiry about the world.  Yet we never lose sight of the need to apply knowledge gained to practical activity and especially to investigation.  We have a trophy awarded at Speech Night each year which is all about knowledge leading to curiosity.  It is for the Junior pupil who has scored the highest over the year in the weekly Key Facts test.  It is our belief that developing a firm knowledge base gives children the confidence to enquire about the world around them, to find out whether the facts are correct and to use enquiry to develop their knowledge further.  There is no knowledge without discovery and no discovery without knowledge.

On my desk I have a paperweight with a quote attributed to Albert Einstein.  For me, it puts into perspective the place of knowledge in learning.  Knowledge is essential, undoubtedly, however there is more that must be ignited in young children that will carry them forward in their lives, never losing sight of the voyage of discovery.

Imagination is more powerful than knowledge

Just like a drug?

This week had bookends.  I like the sense of starting a week on a theme then revisiting it as it comes to a close.  Of course, schools naturally work like this, but when this is scaled up to the whole school community, it has a greater resonance.  We started on Monday with a day dedicated to eSafety.  Infant 3 to Junior 4 in Monday’s Assembly, the Junior classes, the teaching staff and parents had the opportunity to understand the risks that we are exposed to in our ever-increasing use of the internet and digital devices.  In particular, the staff and parent sessions highlighted, only too clearly, just how much responsibility we as adults must take in guiding, shaping and modelling children’s attitude and behviour, not only in general terms but specifically with respect to on-line activity or the use of digital devices.  As the bulk of this responsibility inevitably falls to parents, as a school community have to look very closely at the kind of support we can provide for each other.

My 4-year-old son is, thankfully, not quite at the stage that some children have clearly reached, with an addiction to iPads as severe as that to alcohol or heroin.  He does not have unfettered access to computer, iPad, Wii or other devices (including his sister’s ‘old’ Nintendo DS!).  Although he wishes it were otherwise.  We struggle as parents to enable him to develop the self-control and personal discipline that would prevent the tantrums and sulks if he is either asked to stop or is not allowed to play games on them.  We have no answers and know that we share a similar dilemma with other parents of small children.

I hope that we can continue to guide his social and emotional development to ensure that he understands, naturally, the role that technology plays in a balanced and effective life.  Discussion will continue for sometime and, as parents who have grown up through the technological revolution, the challenge is for us to see the presence of it from our children’s perspective.   He has known nothing else.  These devices have been in his house, used by his parents and big sister all of his life.  However, we must hold fast to certain immutable facts, regardless of the state of society or the form of media:

  1. we are the adults and retain a veto
  2. humans will always need to be adept at social interaction
  3. an ability to communicate articulately is essential in all aspects of our lives

So when I asked in Monday’s Assembly how many children climbed a tree last weekend I was very pleased that the response was the same number as for those who had used the internet.

Balance and moderation in all things, someone once said.