The head, as a manager, needs to understand what headship entails.
Understanding what constitutes the job of a head should enable
you to discharge your duties and responsibilities more effectively
and efficiently. A clear perception of your duties should provide
you with a framework for self-appraisal. It should make it easier
for you to delegate duties. The purpose of this unit is to explain
the concepts of job analysis, job description and job specification
in order to enable you to appreciate better the complexities
of your role in school improvement.
Individual study time: 4 hours
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
distinguish between job analysis, job description and
appreciate the range and nature of the factors that
affect your job operation
identify aspects of your job description
describe the attributes of an effective head.
A job analysis consists of two elements: the job description,
which covers the tasks to be done, and the person specification,
which tells us about the sort of person who is most likely
to be able to do the job.
A job description indicates the tasks and responsibilities
to be undertaken. As a school head you will understand that
there are tasks that must be done. You will also appreciate
that each school situation demands that particular tasks be
performed. Your own perception of the job of a head will determine
how you decide each task should be undertaken.
List all the tasks you currently do in your school. (We would
expect your list to contain at least ten items.)
In listing the tasks in the above activity, you were carrying
out the process which is referred to as 'job analysis', that
is you were identifying the component parts of your job. The
process of job analysis should help to provide you with a
checklist of tasks which you need to perform.
Check to see how your list compares with that below (which
is intended to be indicative rather than prescriptive):
setting up an effective organisational structure within
organising in-school staff development programmes
promoting and maintaining good discipline
managing curriculum design, implementation and evaluation
mobilising and managing resources
ensuring the maintenance of the school plant
ensuring clear communications within the school between
yourself, and the staff, and the pupils
maintaining good public relations with parents, and
the Ministry of Education
keeping full and up-to-date records and information
about the school
ensuring that the mission, objectives and targets for
the school are set and achieved.
The main elements of a job description should be:
a title - this usually will follow a nationally agreed
statement of the main tasks - it is necessary to separate
them out before placing them in logical groups
an indication of the person or group to whom the individual
is accountable - for a school head this is likely to be the
District Education Officer and the board of governors
an indication of the authority the individual has over
as we are stressing how the school head (and the staff)
should relate to other people involved with the school, an
indication of the nature of such relationships should be included
the tasks to be undertaken.
One of the problems with your list is that it is probably
quite long, maybe containing twenty items or more. Questions
which arise from an analysis like this include: Am I doing
what I should be doing? Am I trying to do too many things?
Might some of these tasks be as well done by other teachers?
Is there a balance in the tasks I do, between, for example,
short-term, crisis matters, for example, an absent
teacher; medium-term matters, for example,the timetable for
next term; and long-term matters, for example, a review of
practices and setting of targets
resource issues, such as repairs and books, and people
issues, such as communicating with staff
personnel matters, such as the payment of staff, and
professional matters, such as organising the exams
pupils, and teachers, and parents?
The tasks you have identified need to be placed in clear
categories and should not be presented as an undifferentiated
One of your duties as a head should be to assess the teaching
skills of your teachers through lesson observation. Draw up
a list of the main things you would look for.
In assessing a teacher's skills, you would need to:
study the teacher's schemes of work
discuss the lesson plans with the teacher
observe some lessons
discuss the strengths and weakness of each lesson observed
with the teacher
write up a report.
In making this analysis of just one task you may clearly
see that there are many elements. The same is true for all
the other tasks in which you might be involved, such as organising
exams, ensuring staff are paid, or reviewing practices and
setting targets. Thus when the job description of a head is
written, or you write job descriptions for members of your
staff, then account must be taken of these elements, to ensure
that the person will not be over- (or under-) loaded.
A person specification refers to the type of individual you
want in terms of their qualities, qualifications, background
and experience. If these attributes are to be assessed accurately,
a comprehensive job description which indicates all the skills
required must be prepared first of all.
Consider your own job as school head. Write a list of the qualities
you would include in a person specification using the following
headings: background; abilities and skills; motivation and interest;
You may have included some of the following qualities in your
qualified both academically and professionally
a diplomatic and skilful negotiator not only with the
parents and the public but also with those bodies and organisations
which have some interest in the welfare of the school
an enthusiastic and energetic person whose approach
to work is businesslike
a resourceful individual full of initiative
a successful teacher
a good personnel manager who can handle sensitive issues
and also motivate pupils, teachers and parents to give of
their best at all times.
Using the guidelines from this unit, revise the job description
for your deputy head, senior teachers, heads of departments
and the support staff, or where these do not exist, write them.
You should share the results of this activity with other school
heads, and with your local inspector and line-manager, to
see how they can help.
After going through this unit, you should now be able to explain
and distinguish between the concepts of job analysis (breaking
a job into its components); job description (what the job
entails); and person specification (the qualities of the person
you require for the job). In this unit we have emphasised
the job analysis of the head, but you must be able to prepare
analyses for every member of your staff. You also need to
be sure that all members of your staff are aware of their
job descriptions. A job description is essential if later
on you are to carry out an appraisal of the work of any member