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Should I stay or should I go? perspectives on middle headship

National College for School Leadership


Should I stay or should I go Should I stay or should I go? Perspectives on middle headship Research Associate Report Chris Ingate, Headteacher, Birchwood High School, Hertfordshire Autumn 2006 Contents Background 3 A review of the literature 5 Methodology 10 Case study 1: Nigel (three years in post) 11 Case study 2: Greg (five years in post) 13 Case study 3: Simon (five years in post and about to take up second headship) 16 Case study 4: Andy (one year in second headship following six years as a first-time headteacher) 18 Case study 5: Abigail (nine years in post) 20 Case study 6: Sharon (nine years in post) 23 Lessons from the findings 25 Conclusion 28 Outcomes and recommendations 31 References 33 Acknowledgements 34 Appendix A: Summary of main findings from selected research on the development of headteachers by length of time in post 35 National College for School Leadership 2007 2 Background Should I stay or should I go now? Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble An' if I stay it will be double So come on and let me know Should I stay or should I go? The words from the 1982 song by The Clash! Lyrics to sum up perhaps the dilemma of modern headship. Even the album from which the song emanated – Combat Rock – has a certain resonance with the day-to-day life of the 21st-century school leader. As a headteacher myself at an 11–18 secondary school in Hertfordshire, I am aware, as I enter the fifth year of headship, how I have changed as a school leader. It is this element of reflection and lack of awareness of what the future may hold for me that prompted this research. When am I likely to be at my best? How long should I stay? When will it be time for me to go? How do I plan my succession? Such questions on a wider scale currently hold a particular national relevance as the number of school leaders about to leave the profession in the next eight years is expec

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