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Hassles of headship: new book compares school leadership in England


Name and shame culture, cut-throat competition and pressure to sell the school are the new norm for UK headteachers. But any dreaming of ditching it to teach in The Caribbean may be mistaken, reveals Brunel University London academic Paul Miller.

In his new book, Exploring School Leadership in England and the Caribbean, Dr Milleruncovers the differences and similarities of running a school in Britain and Jamaica.

School inspections often make heads both sides of the Atlantic feel like lambs to the slaughter, found Dr Miller, reader in education at Brunel’s College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences.

Heads in both countries will risk re-interpreting government rules, if it helps their students. Work pressures harmed both groups’ professional development and family life. And high-stakes testing causes headaches all-round.

Faced with lagging technology, Jamaican heads are more likely to compensate with creative approaches. English heads meanwhile are more likely to delegate leadership – mostly jobs they least enjoy.

Another nugget likely to inform school leaders, policy makers and researchers is that there is no one ‘best way’ to lead, but a headteacher’s approach is linked to their abilities, school, cultural and national contexts.

“This will be essential reading for both new and experienced school leaders across the world who would like to improve their education development in leadership,” said Grace McLean, Chief Education Officer at the Ministry of Education in Jamaica.

The book will be launched at Brunel on Wednesday 16 March by former head teacher Dr Gertrude Shotte, from Middlesex University.

Dr Miller is a member of Council of the British Educational Leadership Management Administration Society (BELMAS) and Director at the Institute for Educational Administration & Leadership – Jamaica (IEAL-J). Exploring School Leadership in England and the Caribbean is available from Bloomsbury Publishing.