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Styles of effective heads of mathematics in secondary schools

By Alan Eales

Abstract

Heads of department are in pivotal positions in secondary schools. Their tasks are well documented but it is not the tasks themselves that are critical for effectiveness but rather HOW the tasks are carried out. This research investigated the styles of effective heads of department and how these styles can be developed.\ud For the first study a panel of judges was used to select seven effective heads of mathematics and, following interviews with each one, pen-pictures of their style were drawn up.\ud The second study used four heads of mathematics who were by reputation regarded as effective and were well known to the researcher. Each head of mathematics nominated four colleagues and from interviews with these and the heads of mathematics themselves, extensive pen-pictures of the professional life of each of the heads of mathematics were drawn up.\ud Comparison was made to some leadership theories and it is possible to suggest some generalisations, for example that potential styles are limited by behavioural or affective aspects which suggests that the professional lives of middle-managers are crucially influenced by their personal lives.\ud There was no 'style for all seasons' but the pen-pictures showed the heads of mathematics to be:\ud - 'people-centered' \ud - supporting teachers and pupils through highlypersonalised, professional help;\ud - efficient administrators;\ud - open about their aims - idealistic but pragmatic;\ud - extremely hard working \ud - accepting responsibility for their subject;\ud - members of personal and professional support networks \ud - and involved in the mathematics education debate, both locally and nationally.\ud INSET and appraisal are increasingly school-focussed and school-based.\ud This research trialled aspects of appraisal such as the use of a colleague who can listen, reflect and draw up a written record. Processes such as these are crucial for the development of middle-managers in secondary schools

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 1991
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/7642

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