Sunday, October 4, 2009

Head Teachers

Today I am submitting my blog from the United Kingdom. We have worked in a number of schools over here for the last several years and I find the compare and contrast an illuminating exercise. One of the more significant difference I have noticed is that the administration in UK schools, actually called "senior management" (George Bernard Shaw was correct when he said that we are two countries separated by a common language), almost all teach. The principals are called "head teachers" and their assistants are referred to as "deputy heads." More than just semantics this is a fundamental difference between our school management systems.

For one thing, senior managers remain grounded in the day in and day out grind of those they manage. They have to get to know students, deliver curriculum, grade papers, and in general, interact very differently with staff. A second difference is that even in modestly sized schools there are several deputy heads. This has the affect of flattening the leadership structure and puts more oars in the water when driving new initiatives.

Given my experience with the hectic work life of principals in the US, the UK's shared leadership system results in more widely shared decision-making, responsibility, and accountability.  Some things we may want to consider on the other side of the Pond.  More tomorrow.  Cheers!

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