Co-Headship: The Future Solution to School Leadership

With an undeterred conviction, we strongly believe that there are far-reaching benefits to a Co-Headship model as it is a partnership, which binds the expertise of two reputable leaders that have the potency to rival any traditional model of Headship. The synergy of two Headteachers permits the role to be strategically shared amongst two like-minded practitioners, whose leadership skills and experiences complement each other. This model of Co-Headship also provides schools the flexibility to explore valid options that augment Headship responsibilities over the typical working week - for the greater good of the school. Our proposed model is a part time job share option of 3-4 days a week, with an overlap either at the beginning, middle or end of each week. Currently, there are some existing exemplary London primary schools within the boroughs of Southwark and Newham who have successfully empowered highly effective female leaders to become Co-Headteachers.

As a result, they have managed to attain a healthy equilibrium between adhering to the challenges of being a full-time parent and an effective Headteacher. The benefits of a Co-Headship model are explicit and encompass stakeholders of a given school at every level. It endorses current, deputising leaders to have the courage to “step up” into Headship, through a tailored approach that is personalised, encouraging and genuinely supportive of their ambition and aspirations. The model is also advantageous to a school’s succession plan of developing leadership at the very top level since it presents a resilient solution to the operations of a complex urban school – particularly when faced with a Headteacher crisis and shortage at borough and national level. Not only will this powerful model provide expansion in drive and rigour that naturally comes with dual leadership, but will instil a collaborative approach to “leadership stamina” that takes full account of all the duties of a headteacher over a fifty hour week.

We appreciate the inter-communicational challenges that we may encounter such as: how to stay in touch?; and how to stay aligned over days when we are not working together?

We even acknowledge other key questions that we need to be cognisant of such as: who does what?; who is primarily responsible for certain duties?; what happens if we have a disagreement? … and so on.

After much deliberation on the strengths of our personalities and the archetypes of our leadership styles, we still firmly believe that our Co-Headship model has the cohesive relationship to resolve such issues. We will endeavour to embed formal procedures to address and harness our effectiveness with clarity on duties and with honest and professional communication and transparency we will overcome such challenges.

Once again, it has become our absolute passion to present a solution for the current Headteacher recruitment crisis that is increasingly becoming widespread; and we are ready to embrace a school that is brave enough to follow the same footsteps of other successful primary schools – who are now reaping the benefits of Co-Headship. In the light of this national Headship predicament, we truly feel it is incumbent of more schools with Headteacher vacancies to strongly consider flexible and creative models like Co-Headship, which in our opinion is one of the conduits to growing talented, competent, grassroots Headteachers.

Jayshree Thakore & Natalie Tyndale Aspiring Headteachers at Barham Primary School


Twitter: @BarhamPrimary

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18th July 2016


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