Towards omnicompetence : the need for effective school-based preparation for primary headship
Teachers are entering deputy headship and then deciding not to become headteachers. This is a double problem for the profession. Firstly, potential headteachers are being lost to that role, and secondly, career deputies block the route to headship and prevent ambitious deputies from getting that essential management experience that will effectively prepare them for headship. In Bromley, where this study was carried out, some deputies are getting good advice and support from their headteachers, are given real leadership development opportunities and are going on to become effective headteachers. However, some deputies are given low grade tasks and do not receive the support and encouragement from their headteachers that will lead them towards headship. Finally, there are some deputies who, although in a supportive environment, have decided that headship is not for them. Initially, a short survey of all primary schools in Bromley was conducted to gain an overall picture of deputy headship in Bromley. All schools were contacted to find out whether the deputy at the school was interested in becoming a headteacher at some stage in the future. During a period of twelve weeks, eleven primary headteachers were interviewed together with a senior Local Authority adviser. The aim of the work was to gain a picture of the state of deputy headship in one London Borough and establish what experiences and opportunities were given to deputy headteacher to prepare them for headship. This inquiry found that the majority of deputies in Bromley did not want to be headteachers and that their preparation experiences differs greatly from school to school. The study suggests that deputies should be given the opportunities and experiences that will prepare them for headship. Information from the literature review, the survey and interviews are analysed to construct a model for effective preparation for headship and to make recommendations for improved practice.