A Career as a Headteacher, Are You up to the Task?

** In Collaboration** 

Being the headteacher of a school, no matter the school, is a very lucrative position. It is a high-paid position. It is a position of power. It is a position of responsibility.

But is it a position that you are up to? No matter how good a teacher you might be, an no matter your teaching aspiration, would you be up to the task of being the leader of a whole school of students as well as those that teach them? To find out if you are, make sure to read on.


First of all, are you ready for the journey?

As you set out to embark on a journey to become a headteacher, you have to know that a long journey lies ahead of you. You have to know that, even if you are already a full-fledged teacher, a long journey still lies ahead of you.

To become a headteacher, you would have to do a number of things. You would have to have experience in the job to match the qualifications you have on paper, meaning in the run-up to you being in a position to become a headteacher you would have to take on extra work alongside the work you already do as a teacher, which could mean going out of your way to shadow your current head. Something else that you would have to do, especially if you’ve never done so before, is get to grips with finance, especially finance involved with the education sector.

Would be able to change your working style?

Being a teacher and being a headteacher are two completely different beasts, and this is something you have to both know and be prepared for. And, the biggest difference between these two beasts is the fact the working styles are so different. So, would you be prepared to change yours?

Specifically, something you’d need to change about your working style is your desire to succeed with children in the short term, because as a headteacher you’d most certainly have to think to the future. Yes, thinking in the longterm is an essential part of being a headteacher, and this means that sometimes you have to forgo forging relationships with certain children in the present in an attempt to fortify your school’s standing in the future. And your connection with children is something else that you’d have to change about your working style, too, because you wouldn’t be able to be out there ‘on the field’ as much as you have been in the past.

Are you prepared to juggle roles for a while?

As mentioned, in your quest to become a headteacher you would have to juggle the roles of being a teacher and a trainee or shadowing headteacher. On paper, this doesn’t seem like too difficult a task to undertake. But, in practice, it is a lot harder.

Yes, even if you are already a deputy head with some experience of leading in an educational environment, you would still have to get used to the rigorous demands of being split between the two aforementioned beasts of teaching and headteaching. For instance, you could spend a whole day at your school teaching and shadowing without a break, to then have to do your lesson plans, to then have to attend meetings and to then have to attend a lecture or seminar. Be honest with yourself, are you passionate enough to become a headteacher to do this? If so, then knuckle down and do it!

How do your visions and values align with the role of being a head?

Yes, everybody has their own visions and values in life, and it is important that everybody does so because that’s what makes everybody work so well together in professional environments. But, headteachers have to have a specific set of visions and values that are sometimes enforced upon them. So, be honest, would you like to have visions and values enforced upon you?

These forced upon visions and values include the aforementioned vision of having to look to the future rather than the present and the value of seeing all children as being one force rather than as individuals. So, be even more honest still, do your personal visions and values in regards to teaching align with those that headteachers are forced to have?

Would you be able to work with lots of different people?

As a headteacher you would not just be working with those teachers that you share a department with, you’d be working with all of your school’s teachers. As a headteacher you wouldn’t just be working with the number of students that you actually teach, you’d be working with all the students that attend your school. This, of course, means that the amount of people you will be working with daily will increase tenfold. And then you have the likes of education solicitors, governors, financial benefactors, school examiners and parents thrown into the mix, for good measure. Would you be able to work with all these different forces? What’s more, would be able to resist them as they all seek to pull you in their direction?


Could you handle the abuse that headteachers receive?

If you were to step into the hot seat of being a headteacher, you would have a lot of heated abuse coming your way. Even when you do everything as it is supposed to be done and even when you do everything by the book, you’ll still find yourself being targeted for abuse or negativity from some source or another. Whether it’s angry parents berating you personally, a member of your staff or your school in general, or whether it’s a school governor claiming not enough support is being offered by your in some area or another, you will always find yourself as a prime target for abuse, whether this abuse is just or not.

After reading all of the above, do you think you’ve got what it takes to be a headteacher? If you believe you do, then why don’t you go for it?

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