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Why school leadership?

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Back from an amazing trip to Iceland, but more on that later.  This is a brief post in response to something said to be by someone who shall remain nameless.  The Icelandic landscape lends itself to reflection, especially when you have good headphones!  The timing is apt as the Geographical Association meets for its annual conference this week.

So what was said:

‘Always stay true to your subject and don’t go into management.’

This sent me bonkers.  To put it bluntly, it made me angry, especially as the participants were PGCE / NQT / RQTs.  Of course, it may have been in jest and I’m overreacting, but I think it’s worth setting out here why I think that attitude, for me, is the wrong way to go.  This is a personal view.

In a nutshell, I think it’s morally wrong to accept working within a great Geography department is acceptable when children are being failed by other department’s / teachers / experiences.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a subject teacher or remaining at Subject Leadership level.  Indeed, I even understand, and admire many, of those that are consultants and work across wider areas.  This is because I see them as sharing my own goal which is to positively impact on the education of as many young people (and adults) as possible.

My conscience certainly isn’t happy with staying at a level where I can use my abilities to the fullest.  It may be a well worn and corny groove, but I can make a difference.  That’s why, for me, it’s morally wrong to stay true to my subject.  My aim is not to stop at young people leaving the school with a half decent geography education, but also to be able to have a high level of literacy and numeracy. 

"Intelligence is not what you know, but what you do when you don't know. " - Piaget.

This means that my responsibility is not to ensure that young people leave packed with geographical trivia and facts, but are able to make decisions; know what it’s like to engage with the beautiful struggle that is learning and feel stretched and supported.  If I think I could do this through one lesson a week with Key Stage 3 students, I’d require medication for being hopelessly optimistic.  Instead, I aspire to create a culture that spans an institution. 

Having said this:

1. I may not get a leadership job.

2. Geography is the finest subject in school that places the greatest intellectual demands on young people.

Finally, it’s certainly not for the pay.  I have the confidence (arrogance if you want to call it that) to know that I would have done well at anything I put my mind and considerable drive into.  I chose teaching as it’s fantastic.  I have to pinch myself when I get paid at the end of the month for doing what I love.  I do it because I can.

What do you think? For me, time for some wine…..

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