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Journal cover: Journal of Educational Administration

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Online from: 1963

Subject Area: Education

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Extending the career of the English primary school headteacher: a second headship

Document Information:
Title:Extending the career of the English primary school headteacher: a second headship
Author(s):Brian Fidler, (Institute of Education, University of Reading, Reading, UK), Jeff Jones, (CfBT Education Trust, Reading, UK), Andrew Makori, (Institute of Education, University of Reading, Reading, UK)
Citation:Brian Fidler, Jeff Jones, Andrew Makori, (2009) "Extending the career of the English primary school headteacher: a second headship", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 47 Iss: 4, pp.435 - 451
Keywords:Careers, England, Primary schools, Principals, Teachers
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/09578230910967428 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:This research was funded by the National College for School Leadership in England.

Purpose – The purpose of this article is to report findings from a national study of primary headteachers in their second headship in England. This investigated their reasons for moving schools, their choice of second school and a comparison of their experiences as heads of the two schools.

Design/methodology/approach – The research design involved a national representative survey of primary school headteachers who were in a headship beyond their first. Questionnaire responses were obtained from 86 primary headteachers: a 74 per cent response rate. Follow-up telephone interviews with 20 of them obtained more detailed responses on the research questions.

Findings – The reasons that heads gave for taking a second headship fell into three groups – personal, school and external. The over-riding reasons were to provide a fresh challenge and prevent feelings of stagnation. Movement between schools was complex and the clearest overall trend was a move to larger schools. Heads generally considered themselves more effective in their second school than their first and there were many accounts of the re-energising effect of taking on a new post.

Practical implications – The findings suggest that second headship should be considered as a valuable means of contributing to the continuing development of headteachers. Headteachers should consider a second headship as a possible extension to their headship career. They may need to plan their career before and during their first headship in order to obtain their desired second headship.

Originality/value – This is the first large-scale study of headteachers in a second headship. The numbers of headteachers choosing to move to a second headship and their positive experiences suggest that further stages should be added to the current conceptualisations of the career of the headteacher.

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