Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Leaving School to Learn New Skills

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Leaving School to Learn New Skills

Article excerpt


WITH budgets running into several million pounds and classrooms equipped with internet computers, running a school is the equivalent of managing a medium-size business. But how do teachers learn to handle finance, IT and human resources?

To beef up their management skills, some heads and senior staff are being given the chance to learn from industry and government.

Primary head teacher Angela Rundle starts work every day at the Ministry of Defence in Tottenham Court Road. She is on a year's secondment from her school, St Thomas of Canterbury RC Primary in Fulham, and has joined the MoD's personnel department as part of a team promoting civilian job opportunities to school and college leavers.

Her new role is very different from running a school, but she is there to share her experience of the education system with civil servants and to learn how a large organisation functions. Ms Rundle says: "As a head I'm hands-on: I'm used to dealing with all parts of a project and seeing it through. So I have brought a can-do approach with me. People management is what I find most interesting. My school has only 30 staff and 300 children, while here we are responsible for more than 100,000."

Ms Rundle's secondment was arranged by the business links and training organisation HTI - Heads, Teachers and Industry - which is based in Coventry.

She saw the placement advertised on the HTI website after completing its management course in leadership for serving head teachers. Ms Rundle is one of about 40 heads and senior teachers placed with organisations each year to develop leadership and management skills, experience different ways of working and to think outside the box.

Placements can be anything from six weeks to a year and HTI gives schools a bursary to pay the secondee's salary and as compensation, allowing them to arrange cover during the absence. Normally, when a head takes secondment, the deputy becomes acting head, senior teachers move up a grade and a supply teacher is taken on to fill a vacancy created lower down the school. It is an excellent career opportunity for all concerned.

Ms Rundle says: "It's a wonderful opportunity for my deputy. She takes over a well-run school and gains experience and confidence to be able to go for a headship in another school." Placements, of course, also prepare teachers for promotion to more senior management grades. Paul Sinclair, who teaches A-level government and politics at Newham College, is working for a year in the marketing department of HSBC in Lower Thames Street.

He is developing training material for teaching personal finance and has had to deepen his knowledge and understanding of the commercial world. He says: "I've learned lessons about marketing that would apply to our college and, most importantly, I've learned time management. …

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