Is the Headteacher appointment process flawed? Part 1

Is the Headteacher appointment process flawed? Part 1

23 May 2014

The Application form...

In my experience, governors can often pay a disproportionate amount of attention to application forms, treating it as the only means by which to judge the suitability of an applicant. Although this approach is entirely understandable, I would also suggest that more often than not it is rather unhelpful.

For, whilst the application and supporting statement give a useful first insight into an applicant, it remains a mere insight nonetheless. The frequently made assumption that what is or isn't written is an entirely accurate prediction of their capability as a Headteacher, is both misplaced and untrue.

After all, the reality is that the more applications a candidate fills out, the better they will be at writing an application form.  It is only natural that someone applying for their third or fourth Headship will write a better application than someone applying for their first. For it is highly unlikely, surely, that between their first and fourth application a candidate has become a significantly better Headteacher! The question I often put to governors is this; are you looking for an accomplished applicant or a good Headteacher?

The truth is that most governors will be the first to admit that they are by no means recruitment experts. The recruitment of a future Headteacher is a huge responsibility and quite rightly not one to be taken lightly. However, the fear of getting it wrong can often lead to an overly critical reading of an application form and the subsequent dismissing of a potentially excellent Headteacher who simply isn't that up to date at writing good applications.

As governors, I would therefore like to both encourage and challenge you to keep an open mind and heart and to always err in favour of ‘opting in’ the candidate. In my experience it is far better to see and then reject an applicant than never to see them at all and often it is the "underdog" who performs brilliantly during the interview stage and goes on to be appointed.

So, if you have any doubts whatsoever about an applicant, go ahead and shortlist them for interview! A little bit of grace requires minimal extra effort on your part and could be ultimately rewarding.



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