Naiveties and Nursery Rhymes

Words, poems, rhymes and songs

Tag: leadership

What is a deputy headteacher?

What is a deputy headteacher?

It’s a leader

When the leader is away

Stepping in,


To save the day.

Speaking with authority

That is delegated

Often berated

Ofsted rated

And never sated.

What is a deputy headteacher?

It’s a behaviour preacher

The headteacher’s creature

A supporting act

To the main feature

A shouter, a screecher,

A lesser performance

Than the headlining band

A dotted line drawn in the sand

Of Performance Management

(The cardboard cage for Leadership)

And hands on hip

This deputy stands

Dotted line fading on shifting sands

A guide with a flickering lamp

One foot in each camp,

Both driving and conducting the bus;

Requiring limbs like an octopus.

What is a deputy headteacher?

It’s a rota maker,

Temper faker,


“Have it back later”

A blusterer, a badgerer

A business manager

Teach and mark

Take kids to the park

An acronym guru, an E.V.C.

Knowing A.F.L. and A.P.P.

With S.E.N. and I.E.P.

Being merely tools for P.R.P.

A deputy headteacher

Is out of the classroom forty percent


Yet one heartbeat away from the top.

To some, the deputy is heaven-sent

To others, the deputy must repent,

Or simply give up and stop.

What is a deputy headteacher?

Is it a mouse who’s learning to be a rat?

Or a cat

Who hasn’t quite got the cream,

Not quite living the dream?

Is it a dog without a bite?

Or the penultimate step of ambition?

A sub-aspiration?

A role in its own right?

Or is it a not quite?

An almost? A maybe?

Is the emphasis on ‘head’?

Or ‘teacher’?

Or ‘deputy’?

A headteacher’s first mistake

When I first became a headteacher

I knew what I had to do.

I strode purposefully into that staffroom

And said a word or two.

I spoke to all of the teachers

I communicated with all of the staff

Found what had to be changed

Plotted a decisive path.

Went away to carry out actions

Written on triplicate plans

Following the latest SMART targets

I journeyed to far distant lands.

And there on the edge of a canyon

Teetering near lava-filled pools

I captured the magical beast

And hauled it back to my new school.

Back in the staffroom I presented

The fruition of my labours complete

Just what my teachers had asked for

The thing that would make us compete.

I’d accomplished my colleague’s desires:

Nothing had gone awry!

And now with the staff on my side

Our standards were going to fly!

But the silence was truly awkward,

Everyone in there froze.

Some of them shuffled their feet.

The Year 6 teacher wrinkled his nose.

Butterflies flapped in my belly

I felt naked, despite my best suit.

I’d misjudged something badly

But what? I just couldn’t compute…

The Deputy cleared her throat

As if she was going to speak.

I couldn’t let that happen:

This was my moment to peak.

Trying to lighten the moment,

I said, “What? Is it the horn?”

And with a sympathetic grimace.

She said “Uniform, not unicorn.”

Moral Purpose

They told me I needed a Moral Purpose

In education;

To change this nation.

And so I searched for my Moral Purpose

Headed to the coast

Of the Nation of Education

And there in the Sea

Of Consternation

Swimming from the Ocean

Of Despair

Was a single dolphin

And no Purpose

And I realised I’d missed the point.