HMC Insight: reflecting on headship and the art of change

10 December 2015
Posted by Heidi Salmons
Ben Vessey, Rhiannon Wilkinson and Mark Turner reflect on headship and the art of change

Tackling your first headship

Ben Vessey (Canford School) looks back on his first two years as a Head.

Every headship recruitment exercise I went through had “the ability to lead and manage change” as a central element of the various processes used to assess candidates. My experience with Canford was no different in that regard, although the need for evolution and not revolution was emphasised.

Taking on a second headship

Rhiannon Wilkinson (Wycombe Abbey) reflects on doing it all again.

When we take on second headships we want to ensure that history is not going to repeat itself, whether as farce or tragedy.

Indeed, one of the first things to take on board when anyone moves on to second headship in her own career is that it’s her first headship at the school she’s moving to. This means that if you are sensible, you repeat all the things you did initially when you became a Head the for first time. You yourself have no history at your new school.

“Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.”

Mark Turner (Shrewsbury School) on the challenges of a third headship.

The number three has always had symbolic significance. So it is for the indomitable few, thirteen to be precise, from HMC’s national and international membership, who have embarked on at least three headships. (Factoid: one Member is, apparently, on his fifth headship!)

On the preceding pages my colleagues, Ben Vessey and Rhiannon Wilkinson, have talked about the energy and wisdom required to launch a successful first and second headship, so what prompts individuals to leave the security of a comfortable existence and go through the whole change cycle yet again? No doubt, the lure of fresh challenge, perhaps boredom and the slippery tongues of recruitment consultants all play their part.

To read more, see issue 5 of HMC's Insight magazine.