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What does a head teacher do and should I aim to become one?

Updated: May 11, 2022

Have you ever wondered if becoming a head teacher is in your future career path?

The job is something many teachers think about when moving up the ranks at their school. However, it is difficult to know if it is one you would be suited to until you get there.

Here are just some of the responsibilities of being a head teacher and the skills you need to pull them off effectively.

Coming up with, planning and executing your school’s educational vision

A successful school starts with a strong vision. Each school has its own needs and areas for improvement, so every school’s vision will be unique. Whatever it includes, however, it must be strong, forward-thinking and achievable.

The head teacher is ultimately the person who directs the school so it is their responsibility to craft a range of goals that faculty are on board with.

Having a strong presence within the school community and uniting everyone in it

Overseeing the school’s finances and administration

More than anyone, you are your school’s representative and you are the person

Managing and motivating staff members

As well as being the director of education at your school, you are in charge of all of its people. Your leadership skills must extend to being personable and being able to make effective personnel decisions.

It is also up to you to make teachers and other staff members at your school feel confident in their roles and in the school, and feel positive about working there. You must be able to listen to your team and take their feedback on board and make them feel valued.

Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the whole school community

When hundreds of people come together in one place, it is of the utmost importance that their safety and wellbeing is ensured. As head teacher, you must oversee and upkeep protocols in your school which result in staff, students and all other parties feeling protected and comfortable in the school environment.

Directing rules and the school responses to bad behaviour

Whilst disciplining students on an everyday basis will usually be teachers’ responsibility, you might be asked to step in for more serious behavioural incidents which require a large response.

Each school also has its own behavioural policies and, as the leader of the school, you will be in charge of putting these together and then having the final say, in consultation with other staff members, research and modern teaching practice.

Being a community leader

You must be a strong presence not only within your school’s community but in the wider local community.

This involves having open channels of communication with local authorities, head teachers at other local schools, nearby residents and the local newspaper, for example. With important parties in the area feeling like they can connect with you on an individual or professional basis, they will look at you and your school positively, meaning you can more easily effect change and bring about benefits for your school and its students.

Making use of modern teaching and technology

You want your school to be forward-thinking and be making the most of all that the modern teaching sector can offer. This is why you must make an effort to keep up to date with the latest educational technology, theories on learning, teaching practices and education research.

Putting these into practice will put your students in the best position to be able to grow and be ready for the modern world outside of the classroom.

So what skills and attributes will you need in order to make it as a successful head teacher?

  • Teaching experience with strong knowledge of the role

  • Leadership

  • Communication

  • Organisation

  • Ability to work with different groups of people

  • Enthusiasm for seeing young people success and desire to help them get there

  • Feeling secure with disciplining both students and staff

  • Time management

  • Team work

Want to further understand and be equipped to take on the role of a school leader? Discover the Diploma in Educational Leadership and Management and study on Notting Hill College’s Virtual Campus.



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