How to Become a Headteacher
Many teachers aim to become a headteacher in either a primary school or a secondary school, and for good reason. Being part of school leadership means being able to make a significant positive impact on the education of all the children within your school and securing yourself a long-term, full-time career.
As a Beginner, Where Should I Start?
The most important thing for a headteacher in the United Kingdom is first to undertake formal teacher training. Becoming qualified through teaching courses will allow you to begin working in a school, starting your path to become a headteacher.
Teaching assistant roles can also be an excellent way to develop a pathway into being a classroom teacher and eventually a headteacher. You can become qualified in this area by taking dedicated teaching assistant courses.
Although it’s not always a requirement to be university educated to become a teacher, having a higher education qualification can make your journey to becoming one much easier. If you’ve undertaken a university course or A-level in English, a science-related degree, or a degree in IT or a maths-related subject, this could be useful within your teaching career. Maths and English at a C-grade or above at GCSE level will be needed to take on any teaching qualifications.
Outside of formal qualifications, any kind of experience with children will be highly valued in teaching. If you know you’re interested in teaching or becoming a headteacher, it’s always a good idea to get started early with childcare.
Consider babysitting, mentoring, tutoring, volunteering at your local church in Sunday school or other volunteering, shadowing, childcare, or paid positions to gain experience with kids and show your enthusiasm for the industry.
Skills Required for a Headteacher
So, what makes an outstanding headteacher? How do you become a good headteacher, and what makes a good headteacher stand out above the rest?
There are also several skills and attributes that a headteacher or deputy head needs that you should be working on throughout your career. These include:
The Next Step into Headship
If you’ve completed a teaching course already, you can start as a teaching assistant or do supply teaching before moving into a permanent teacher’s position. After working for a while as a classroom teacher, look for opportunities to take on leadership opportunities. They may include:
Becoming a head of department
This will serve as your first opportunity to really prove yourself as a leader and demonstrate that you have the skills and qualities needed to take on the role of a headteacher later.
Heading up a new project or a special project
The ability to take over a project and lead it and the people involved successfully to completion is bound to get you noticed. Any opportunity to shine as a leader will be of use to you on your way to becoming a headteacher.
Helping new headteachers get acquainted with the school
Not only will this win you brownie points with the headteacher you’re helping, which could speed up your career progression, but it’ll also give you a unique insight into the headteacher role. Finding out these things early on will help you prepare for the future and avoid surprises.
You will also want to consider, after a few years, working towards attaining the national professional qualification for headship or an NPQH. This will allow you to be considered for more senior leadership roles like becoming a deputy head.
How to Become an Assistant Headteacher or Deputy Head
Becoming an assistant headteacher or deputy head is typically viewed as the final step before becoming a full-time headteacher. In contrast to becoming a headteacher, no formal qualifications are needed to be appointed as a deputy headteacher or an assistant headteacher.
However, you’ll normally need to demonstrate a number of years’ experience to be successful in a job application. Applying to become a deputy head is a bit like applying for a senior position at a company. You need to be able to prove your experience in the field.
As a deputy headteacher, you’ll need to hold yourself responsible for being part of the school’s governing body while also clearly showing care for the school community. Understanding organisations like OFSTED is crucial, as this may be the first time you can show your own school just how suited you are for the final position. While working as a deputy head, it’s also a good idea to continually undertake both personal development and professional development.
Hopefully, after a few years working as deputy head, the chief executive and other board members will recognise your significant contribution to the school community.
They may consider you for the next headteacher position either at the school you’re already at or at another school where they think your leadership would be valued.
How Much Does a Headteacher Earn?
If you’re wondering how much does a headteacher earn in a year, this amount can vary, depending on whether you are teaching in the public or private sector, as well as the school’s finances and overall school budget. Average salaries for a headteacher can range from £47,000 a year to £117,000 a year.
If you’re asking yourself, “how much does a primary school headteacher earn?” or “how much does a secondary school headteacher earn” you may be surprised to learn that wages generally don’t tend to be affected by educational level. However, you may be able to find higher-paying roles or push for a pay increase if you’re expected to carry out a wider range of tasks, which may happen at secondary school level.
Relevant Learning Areas for Headteachers
There are a variety of short courses that could further your skills in areas that will be crucial in the future. Consider courses in:
Understanding the way data works and the data that’s going to be stored within school databases will make your life easier and show the board of directors that you’re ready for the future and for the duties of a headteacher. You can become qualified in this area through data administration and development courses.
Program planning & curriculum evaluation
Being able to both plan programs and curriculum as well as evaluate their effectiveness within a school is the mark of a good headteacher.
Educational law and ethics
There are a number of laws that relate specifically to education and the safety of children. If you have ambition for school leadership, it’s important that you understand and apply the relevant laws and ethical concepts and safeguarding information to real-life situations. Any formal teaching qualification should cover this, but any extra knowledge of law learned through taking on law and justice courses could be helpful.
Leadership and communication
As a headteacher, you’ll be in charge of overseeing various departments and will be expected to take your school in the right direction through school policies and other areas. Having completed management and leadership training, which allows you to gain strong leadership skills, will be incredibly helpful if you’re keen to succeed in this role.
There are a variety of ways to become a headteacher but working your way through the school system is one of the most direct and fool-proof ways to show your enthusiasm for the top job long term.
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