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Debate: Leading the way?

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By John CoeInformation Officer for the National Association for Primary Education

Why are teachers choosing to stay in the classroom, and not putting themselves forward as potential leaders?

John Coe

There I was, a young (ish) NQT, working with my very first class, when the door opened and in came a slightly uneasy headteacher. ‘There’s someone in my office to see you,’ he said. Intrigued, I went to his office. There, in a chair next to the desk, sat the local inspector who had come to see how I was settling in. We greeted each other and I looked for somewhere to sit. Well, there was only one other chair in the room and it was behind the Head’s desk, so I sat on it. ‘I see,’ said the inspector with a somewhat steely look, ‘You take the seat of authority.’

Authority. I experienced this for real, a few years later, when I got my first headship. Of all the jobs I’ve done in primary education, I can say, unequivocally, that headship has been the most authoritative of all. Authoritative in the sense that one’s actions could change things. In primary schools, children come first, teachers second and the authorities a poor third.

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