Friday, 18 September 2009


Being a Time Lord is very helpful, or so say the primary school children surveyed by the National College for the Leadership of Schools and Children's Services, as Dr Who came out to be the 'Dream Headteacher'. Leaving Alan Sugar, Jamie Oliver and Lewis Hamilton feeling painfully inferior, the Doctor (in his David Tennant carnation)also managed to pip Barack Obama, JK Rowling and Cheryl Cole into second place. And funnily enough, when the same options were offered to the adult readers of the Education Guardian page, Doctor Who was the adults' Dream Head too, although my choice of Michelle Obama looks set to come in in 2nd place.

Asked why they had chosen their particularly dream teacher, nearly half of the children did so because they were 'fun'. Also important was whether they could look up to this headteacher and their intelligence.

This helps to see what children seek in a headteacher, a role that can be of huge significance to their education and development - fun, intelligent and a good role model. Children themselves clearly place high value on their headteachers too - 75% of children surveyed said that their headteacher made them happy to be in school, and a similar percentage stated that their headteacher was fair and understood right from wrong.

The role of a headteacher then is quite different from that of a teacher. Although the head is not as much of a frontline character in the classroom as the teachers, they nonetheless play a large role for the pupils themselves. In a primary school in which I've volunteered, I overheard Year 6 children talking about the previous headteacher, who had left over 3 years ago. The position itself, ignoring the individual personalities, is something quite mythical in the childhood imagination - 'the Headteacher' is the character children read about in many books, see on children's TV. 'The Head' is where you get sent if you misbehave. 'The Head' is a place as much as a person and is a by-word for authority.

The tricky position of being a good teacher demamds that you are the figurehead of the school, that you command authority, that you are intelligent, that you are fun and that you can discipline. This is quite a difficult combination and one, for those that can master it, warrants a very healthy salary.

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