Saturday, June 25, 2011


Schools have usually had quite fixed hierarchy, with about ratios of 1:7. Each 7 people have a direct line manager. In recent years I've begun to suspect that this is breaking down into more flat management structures.

In mathematics departments there are a number of structures that can be put in place. A common and traditional approach is to have a head of department(HoD) responsible for managing staff and curriculum(gaining .2-.4 FTE to do so) and then each year group being allocated to a teacher. The HoD manages performance issues, consistent judgements, liasing with admin and some behavioural issues. The HoD position is a level 3 position of responsibility within a school.

An emerging approach (in the last 10-20 years) is appointing a teacher in charge (TiC) and devolving responsibility for curriculum leadership, staff management and all of the HoD roles to admin staff such as team leaders. TiCs handle budgetary matters and the day to day issues of a maths department. No FTE is applied to such a position and a small monetary amount is given in addition to wages. Although this approach works in the short term on the momentum of past leadership (or if a person is found wiling to work a HoD role under the auspice of a TiC), it falls short when leadership is required to implement change. This model tends to lack responsibility for identifying and rectifying issues, leading to direct confrontation with admin over key issues where normally they would be resolved intra department. It also has the potential for conflict if the TiC is seen to be overstepping the bounds of their role.

A third model, worse than the TiC model is to rely on the professionalism of each individual teacher to self manage and monitor all processes via admin. The main issue with this model(prevalent in very small schools) is that admin does not have the skill to ensure that relevant curriculum is being followed, causing disjunct programmmes from year group to year group. It also causes feelings of isolation and dislocation from the collegiate group.

If regular time is not allocated to making a department work, they can be seen as dysfunctional rather than lacking leadership.

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