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Characteristics of a good headteacher

Let it be acknowledged by all those who have education really at heart that no amount of academic qualifications, however high, will alone make a good and highly esteemed headteacher.

Among his personal qualities, a headteacher should be companionable and of a jovial disposition. Never awe-inspiring, he must like children and be seen to be tolerant in his dealings with them. Yet, another desired quality is constituency in all his dealings with the students who look for it and readily respond to it.

He should be gifted with organising and administrative abilities which enable him to martial effectively the various school activities.

The virtue of humility dominates the character of the good head of school. For him, teachers, parents and children of whatever age group are human beings like himself with their individual character imperfections. Every person is unique. He is in a capacity to serve, and his authority is never overtly mentioned. He rarely falls on it.

A good headteacher must always bear in mind that he is responsible for the educational advancement of all the children under his care. The advancement comprises the intellectual, moral, emotional and physical. This is by no means an easy task, requiring a high sense of duty and dedication on the part of the headmaster.

The qualified headteacher should be smartly dressed at all times, thereby setting a silent, but effective, example for his teachers to follow. He is without fail punctual at his place of work. This too inspires his teaching staff to do likewise.

The headteacher's role is essentially one of relationships - with higher authorities, staff members, parents, school council, visitors to the school and most importantly, children for whom schools are built. Due respect should be accorded to school inspectors, lately known as education officers, and all help extended to prospective teachers and their university tutors.

A headteacher, worthy of his position, should manifestly show respect for others because between him and the members of staff exist quite a number of personal relationships. He should therefore approach his dealings with them in a constructive manner, and be ready to learn even from the most junior members of his staff. He must appear to be fair in all his encounters with them and lacking in any semblance of favourtism. Without the full cooperation of staff, the wise headmaster realises that he cannot alone manage effectively the affairs of his school.

The parents, who trust their children in the teachers' care and attention as in loco parentis, have to be respected.

The headteacher should listen to their grievance and complaints and does all he can to redress their legitimate complaints to their satisfaction, all long as they are genuine, reasonable and politely submitted.

He should bear in mind that in several instances, a teacher's slips inadvertently perhaps, are brought to his attention through the parents.

Conducting himself the ritual of the morning assembly is yet another mark of the competent head of school. Preaching an occasional sermon also falls within his ambit; and though much of what he says falls on deaf ears, yet some may fall of fertile ground, and thus the exercise is justified and the happier he is at the end.

Keeping up to date with educational development in other countries is an attribute of the good headteacher. This can be done by attending lectures, seminars and conferences and by subscribing to educational journals. Moreover, as a professional, experienced in educational matters, he should write features of educational interest for publication. A head of school should visit classes and occasionally leaves the administration of the school to his assistant, so that he may be able to deliver a well-prepared lesson to a particular class. In this way, his professional skills as head of teaching remains unimpaired. His educational competence and esteem are thus enhanced not only by the teachers under his charge but by the students as well.

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