Advanced search

Philosopher, Surgeon, Architect, Soldier, Accountant

(8 Posts)
GnomeDePlume Fri 21-Oct-16 00:39:47

Not plum stone jobs but different types of secondary school heads according to a study just published in the Harvard Business Review:

- "Philosophers" are the largest group. They are heads who do not see themselves as managers, but try to lead by example as senior teachers. They are inspirers, who like to talk about pedagogy, in particular. They do not change much about the student body or the staffroom.
- "Surgeons" are head teachers who act decisively to try to turn around schools. On arriving in a school, they exclude an average of around a quarter of the final-year students and drive resources into final-year students. They fire around a tenth of staff. They have a dramatic immediate impact.
- "Architects" are careful planners. They work on improving standards of behaviour in schools as a first step before working on improving teaching. They value parental engagement, seeing themselves as working for their community. They only expel children for behaviour management, and slowly replace poorly performing staff.
- "Soldiers" and "Accountants" are best suited to schools which need a financial turnaround. "Accountants" try to increase the size of the school as a strategy for improving the financial balance. "Soldiers" try to cut costs to meet the school's budget constraints.

Surgeons move on quickly but their legacy is one of swift decline. Surgeons get the most reward and recognition but in fact deliver almost as little as Philosophers.

Architects achieve the most longer term but are rewarded and recognised the least.

If you are involved or interested in school management then I highly recommend having a read.

My DCs' school has in rapid succession worked its way through many philosophers and surgeons. The result is a school back into special measures for the third time in the time we have been associated with the school (9 years).

noblegiraffe Fri 21-Oct-16 00:45:39

SchoolsWeek looks at the data to see which subjects correlate with which type of head.

Surgeons, the worst kind of superhead but most likely to be rewarded, are more likely to have been PE or RE teachers.

GnomeDePlume Fri 21-Oct-16 00:54:47

Yes, our last superhead was a former PE teacher!

crazycatguy Fri 21-Oct-16 00:59:20

My current HT is definitely an architect. I've worked for all of these breeds in my career!

bojorojo Fri 21-Oct-16 06:06:20

"Surgeons" exclude an average of 25% of final year students! Really? Where has this happened? An average of 25% - so some have excluded more! In this country that would be in the lead up to GCSEs presumably? Also resources are diverted away from these children. I guess this must be in the USA but surely there would be an outcry here if such a thing happened in many schools? I recognise the trait of excluding the worst offenders but this figure is way too high.

The "Architects" only expel for "behaviour management". What other grounds are there?

I cannot think of a single Head I have ever met who was a PE or RE teacher.
I can see what the research is driving at but the truth is, only some Heads are successful over a long period of time and maintain the successes they achieve. There are not enough to go round. Usually a good Head will tackle poor behaviour and quality teaching in tandem. It is never behaviour first. It might appear like this because the behaviour rules can be applied very quickly and it is obvious to all what is happening. A good head will tackle poor teaching very quickly too, but the results often take longer to be seen because the processes involved are lengthy.

MyCatIsTryingToKillMe Fri 21-Oct-16 06:46:16

Architects achieve the most longer term but are rewarded and recognised the least.

Bit like real life then. wink

PawWavingCat Fri 21-Oct-16 08:35:24

They reported this on Newsnight last night, and it was very interesting - but depressing! I turned off when Wilshaw came on.

GnomeDePlume Fri 21-Oct-16 08:38:46

bojorojo this is England (150 secondary school academies) and the research certainly reflected the reality in my DCs' school.

Failing schools (where new heads are likely to be found) are frequently characterised by poor attendance and discipline problems.

There are two ways of dealing with these problems: work with students to get them to behave and attend or permanently exclude the students with poor behaviour or attendance.

Architects do the former, Surgeons do the latter. In a poor school it is easy to see how a vast swathe of year 11 students could be excluded.

I have always been cynical about the new broom bringing in a strict new uniform policy. You can see how it can be used to exclude students who cant/wont attend school regularly. Not got the right tie/shoes/socks suddenly you are excluded.

In the Venn diagram of students there will be a significant overlap of students who dont have the right uniform, dont attend regularly, have discipline problems and are falling behind.

Exclude these students and hey presto! percentage achieving 5 A*-C GCSE results instantly rises. The school has shrunk, but what the hell, if you are a Surgeon superhead you collect your fat cheque & your MBE and move hastily on.

An Architect will work with the students and the community to make improvements to behaviour and attendance. The results come slower but are sustained.

I think this is a hugely important piece of research. It has lessons for governing bodies, for heads and for OFSTED.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now