I saw a blog earlier today by a Head of Department offering advice to her younger self on how to be a good HoD. It’s generally full of good advice and important points. For me, however, the value of those good points was slightly undercut by the fact that it appeared written very much from the “leadership” perspective of being a HoD. I felt that, if I squinted a bit in places, I’d be able to see lessons on “leadership” from courses like “Leading from the Middle”, and the woeful National Professional Qualification for Middle/Senior/Junior/Bottom/Top Leaders as inflicted on so many blameless teachers. I’ve since had a PM chat with the author, and she’s a wonderful person. We do, however, disagree a bit on where the focus of the HoD role might be, and the extent to which “leadership” as it is currently perceived in the education system, is important.
Then I thought, “Hang on, I’m leaving my own HoD role after 10 years. I should offer my own collected wisdom to my successor, and to any other poor saps who think the TLR justifies all the extra contact with SLT they’ll need to have.” Not a blog on general “leadership”, because I’ve done that already, and a lovely catharsis it was too. But a blog on being a Head of Department, for those who might be taking on that role for the first time in September. Then I realised that this will be an even easier blog than normal, because I’ve already done it !
Two years ago, the wonderful Jill Berry wrote a piece on the Guardian website about what it means to be a good HoD. I didn’t know Jill then (I’d never been on Twitter at the time), and my response was somewhat sceptical of Jill’s perspective. I thought that she was describing what a headteacher thought made a good HoD, rather than what a teacher or HoD might think was a good HoD. And I launched what, on reflection, might well have been my first mini-blog.
You can find the Guardian article here. For ease of reference, I’m repeating my BTL comment here. I’ve read it again, and I still subscribe to every word I said back then! Sorry, Jill!