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Research from the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) sheds ...
Research from the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) sheds

new light on long serving head teachers who retain a positive and

vibrant attitude to the job.

The survey, carried out by Ronnie Woods, a research associate for

NCSL and head of Cleadon Village Junior School in South Tyneside, has

produced compelling evidence of common characteristics among school

leaders who continue to rise to the challenges of the job after many

years in post.

His Practitioner Enquiry Report 'Enchanted Headteachers' - among the

first to be published by the College - demonstrates that many heads

retain a drive and effectiveness that needs to be celebrated and

learned from.

Woods recognised that established heads who had been in post for a

decade or more, fell into two clear camps: those who felt overwhelmed

with the job of head and those who continued to have an energy and

enthusiasm for the job. 'Previous research evidence suggested that

there is an inevitable disenchantment after about ten years in the

post. I had witnessed this first hand but also recognised that there

were heads who were quite the opposite - what I term 'enchanted.''

He looked at 13 primary heads in the North East who fulfilled three

criteria: they had been in post for at least ten years; were judged

by OFSTED to be leading successful schools; and were deemed by their

LEA to be enthusiastic professionals.

'I was able to identify six characteristics in the 13 heads,' says

Woods. 'They have pride in everything they do, have a closeness to

their pupils and enjoy teaching, have respect for others, embrace

change, are good listeners and have a modest image of themselves.'

Woods was given 50 days to complete his research - a relatively short

time span but one that meant that his work had a freshness, currency

and relevance for other teachers.

Woods was one of the first school leaders to win an Associateship

with NCSL. The Research Associates Programme offers school leaders

the chance to carry out research into leadership on behalf of NCSL.

The role also involves raising the profile of research in schools,

representing NCSL at conferences and building a cadre of heads who

believe in research.

For Woods, the role has brought many benefits to him and his school:

'The time out of school allowed me to read widely and reflect on my

work - I could go back to school refreshed and with a new

perspective. On returning, I noted that colleagues had taken on

initiatives and grown in their role - that made me recognise that to

be a good Head I didn't necessarily have to take a leading part in

every aspect of the school's work.

'The college is a new organisation and I felt energy, enthusiasm and

motivation from my contact with people there. I'd strongly recommend

the Associates Programme to any colleague.'

All Practitioner Enquiry Reports are available from Amanda Hatchett,

NCSL, Jubilee Campus, Wollaton Road, Nottingham, NG6 1BB, by faxing a

request to 0115 84 66952 or by visiting here .

Ronnie Woods' report 'Enchanted Headteachers' is one of the first six

Practitioner Enquiry Reports to be published by NCSL. The other five

reports are:

- Leading Learning: Instructional leadership in infant schools, by

Susan Benson (Headteacher of Alwyn Infant and Nursery School,


- Winning Hearts and Minds: Leadership and performance management, by

Michael Crane (Headteacher of John Port School, Derbyshire).

- Leading to Success: Judging success in primary schools in

challenging contexts, by Stephen Englefield (Headteacher of

Brownhill Primary School, Leeds).

- No Regrets? Starting secondary headship, by Alan Sieber

(Headteacher of County High School Leftwich, Cheshire).

- IcT's About Learning: School leadership and the effective

integration of information and communications technology, by Ken

Walsh (Headteacher of King Edward VII School, Melton Mowbray).

The Research Associates programme is a means for school leaders to

learn from each other about the best practices of school leadership.

It also contributes to the Associate's own professional development.

Headteachers awarded Associateships receive funding for the provision

of temporary cover so they can be released from school for an agreed

number of days per year. The research period can vary from 2 terms to

three years. Research Associates are appointed three times a year.

The National College for School Leadership was launched by the Prime

Minister in November 2000 to provide continual training, recognition

and support for England's school leaders. The College is based in

interim accommodation on the Jubilee Campus of the University of

Nottingham. A #25m state of the art building is to open in September.

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