Is an Architect school leader worth waiting for?

  • 8th December 2016
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A recent article regarding Head teachers (school leaders) recently caught our interest. Here’s our opinion piece regarding the article ‘Why the UK School system does not reward the best head teachers.’

The link to the original article can be found here:

Is an Architect school leader worth waiting for?

A novel piece of research that looked at 160 schools in England suggests our school system is failing to recognise the school leaders who make the greatest impact in improving pupils’ outcomes.

In his article, Chris Cook explores why different schools might recruit different sorts of leaders.

Each of the five ‘types’, surgeons, philosophers, architects, accountants and soldiers have their very own agenda.

It certainly makes you consider the strategies that each ‘type’ of school leader contributes to the school and in what circumstances they might be appropriate.

Having myself worked alongside most of the types mentioned in this article, I can speak from personal experience. The ‘surgeon’ I worked with was certainly the most impressive initially, with strong convictions and seemingly convincing ideas. However, the results he ‘achieved’ came in part from taking a significant proportion of students off the GCSE track and putting them onto vocational courses. This led to a sharp increase in GCSE results (the main indicator of ’success’ of a secondary school in England) but limited the academic opportunities available to the ‘other’ students. 

Arguably, the most concerning observation is over the hurried nature of the English school system, whereby ‘surgeon’ leaders are applauded for fulfilling requirements for short-term results, even to the detriment of longer-term improvements. Are then the architect leaders the most courageous of the bunch, who don’t fall for the short-termist behaviours that may be encouraged within our scrutinised education system?

Challenging Learning advocates learning that is engaging and long-lasting. The right ‘type’ of leader should require you to step out of your comfort zone; to go beyond your Current Ability, encourage you to learn together, not just ‘do’ together. We encourage you to take every opportunity you can to go beyond your Current Ability and be prepared to wobble. If you are wobbling then you are learning. And if you are learning then you will flourish.

While the problems the research raises are thought-provoking, it also offers hope; perhaps it is about time that we associate leadership types with school performance, first and foremost to identify and commend those leaders that are quietly excellent and committed to progress for all.