1st Edition

School Leadership - Heads on the Block?

By Pat Thomson Copyright 2009
    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    187 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Most teachers become heads for idealistic reasons, wanting to make a difference to the lives of children and young people. Yet serving heads suggest the job is getting harder, talking openly about stress and leaving the job. Many teachers now see headship as a risky business, and succession planning, while necessary, will not on its own be sufficient to attract the diverse range of applicants required to satisfactorily fill leadership positions. School Leadership: Heads on the Block addresses this shortage. It suggests there is no crisis in supply per se, but that schools in some locations find it difficult to attract the ‘right people with the right stuff’. The book examines the expectations of heads, the hours they are expected to work and the nature of everyday demands. It proposes that ‘sudden death’ accountabilities act as a major disincentive to potential applicants, and outlines a series of policy measures to tackle the kinds of daily pressures heads now experience.


    Key features of the book:

    • draws on a wide range of material, ranging from published research, interviews and media clippings to popular films and children’s novels
    • makes extensive use of headteachers’ words and stories
    • based in the author’s own experiences of headship, tackling issues that leadership books often ignore.


    The book will be of interest to headteachers, headteachers’ professional associations, teachers and those who study teaching. It will be useful to policy makers, those responsible for the education of potential heads and for headteacher professional development.

    1. Introduction  2. Becoming a head  3. Heads in fiction  4. Heads in management texts  5. Heads and the standards agenda  6. Headship as risky work  7. The difficult work of improving learning  8. Taking a collective position  9. Getting real about school leadership


    Pat Thomson is Professor of Education and Director of Research at the School of Education, University of Nottingham, UK. She has worked as a headteacher in disadvantaged schools in South Australia, and has published several books, including Helping Doctoral Students Write and Doing Visual Research with Children and Young People.

    "The cover of this book says it all - the impossibilities of leadership within the current education policy regime. Pat Thomson outlines in graphic and sometimes shocking detail the complexities of school headship. The book blows away the complacent niceties of leadership theories in an account of the risks, stresses and dissatisfactions of real leadership in real schools." - Stephen J Ball, Karl Mannheim Professor of Sociology of Education, University of London

    "Those responsible for principal preparation programs and professional development will benefit from the book’s research related to the stress and satisfaction experienced by principals." -The School Administrator