In this unit, we will look at some of the management functions
which you have as a school head, building on concepts introduced
in Unit 1.
We look first at a case study on School Mismanagement Fever.
We differentiate between the functions of planning, organising,
directing, supervising and evaluating in a school, and we
see how they relate to each other and how together they describe
the role of the school manager, or head. Lastly, we consider
some indicators of effective school management.
Individual study time: 3 hours
After working through this unit you should be able to:
differentiate between the main functions of the head
of a school and identify some of the tasks associated with
describe some of the inter-relationships between these
identify the key indicators of effective school heads.
School mismanagement fever
In Fig 3 a cartoonist is suggesting that a head of a disorganised
school is requesting help, because she's seeking a cure for
a School Mismanagement Fever.
Fig 3 S.M. Fever is school mismanagement
In this school we may imagine that the governing board has
expired; it has an inadequate number of teachers; the pupil
drop-out rate is high; the results in public examinations
are poor; the buildings, equipment and materials are inadequate
and poorly maintained; the grounds are untidy and the morale
of those connected with the school is not high.
But the main lessons from the case study which the cartoonist
is emphasising is that if as a head you are ASKing for help
either to prevent or to cure your School Mismanagement Fever,
you are miles ahead of those who do not recognise that they
have a problem at all! Clearly, you appreciate your role as
manager of an organisation, which exists to provide the pupils
with useful knowledge, skills and attitudes for responsible
and successful living. To be a successful head you will need
to acquire managerial Attitudes = A, Skills = S and Knowledge
= K for running your school. Thus school managers who are
seeking to find a cure for School Mismanagement Fever must
recognise the need to ASK, that is, to involve others in developing
solutions, but must also recognise the three key components:
Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge, which they need to acquire.
May be your S.M. Fever can be traced to a specific managerial
issue which interferes with the processes of instruction and
learning in the school, but, more likely, there are very many
issues about which you are concerned. The successful school
head is someone who is able to handle a range of problems
or issues, at one time.
A school management diagnosis
Let us examine or diagnose, by means of a checklist, how well
you are doing as a school manager.
Complete the school management diagnosis checklist in Fig 4
by ticking 'yes' or 'no'.
Fig 4 School management diagnosis checklist
Indicate which of the following you have worked on, within the
last school year, in your school.
Note: in each case you should be able to explain to someone
what has been done.
If your 'Yes' scores exceed 15/20, then your School Mismanagement
Fever is not life threatening! However, if your 'No' scores
exceed 10/20, then your School Mismanagement Fever requires
your serious attention.
The list indicates the five main management functions of
school heads: planning, organising, directing, supervising
and evaluating all aspects of school life. Although they occur
in sequence, in fact each function continues all the time.
As the list shows each may be broken down into several tasks.
Thus the work of a head is both complex and never complete!
The modules presented in this series for the training and
support of school heads should guide you to reduce your School
Relating management functions
The functions and tasks identified in the checklist may be
put in the form of a flow chart.
Take one of the main areas of life in your school, such as the
curriculum. Use the diagram from Unit 1 in which we presented
the five main functions or processes of school heads within
a management cycle, and demonstrate through specific examples,
how you, in your school, undertake tasks within each function
in relation to the curriculum.
This is not an easy activity to undertake as the range of tasks
you have identified is probably quite large, but you should
have gained a clearer idea as to how every task which you undertake
as a school head in the various areas of operation may be analysed
and described in terms of the broad functions which make up
the management cycle. Moreover as noted in Unit 1, although
presented cyclically, management processes inter-relate. The
flow chart depicted in Fig 5 highlights these relations. It
is important that you become analytical about your job, so that
you can make sure you are doing the right things, for the right
reason, in the right way, and at the right time.
Fig 5 Managing your school
In examining the flow chart you probably thought 'How can
I, as a school head, manage to plan, organise, direct, supervise,
and evaluate programmes, projects and activities in my school?'
The answer to this question lies in the application of the
physical, programme, project and financial (budgeting)
human and public relations
communication and negotiation techniques
delegation of authority, functions, responsibilities,
duties and tasks
decision-making and problem-solving
management of change in relation to the operations
in a school, through action planning.
All of these aspects are discussed in subsequent units and
in other modules of this series.
School heads: Chief Executives or Lead Professionals?
Most people recognise the fact that the central role of the
school head should be in managing the teaching and learning
which determine the quality of education. Your attention is
therefore drawn to current concerns for building the capacity
in educational management at three levels:
in the delivery of education in schools
in policy implementation through district and regional
in strategic policy development within the Ministry
of Education, the entire government, non-governmental organisations
and international agencies.
These concerns focus on the school as a social institution
- an agency through which the educational needs of the youth
can be met. A school therefore is a means to an end and not
the end in itself. This is reflected in the various roles
the head performs. We introduced a number of these in Unit
1, for example, administrative, leadership, supervisory and
managerial roles. Some people make a useful distinction between
the head as the Chief Executive (CE) and the head as the Lead
Chief Executive role examples
Examples of activities which illustrate the role of the head
as Chief Executive are given below.
setting out the mission and objectives of the school
allocating duties to staff
co-ordinating and supervising staff activities
evaluating school performance
establishing working relationships between the governing
board and the staff and employers
ex officio member of the governing board.
Make a list of some of the activities which you undertake as
a school head in your Lead Professional role.
You probably found this task quite easy if you usually think
of yourself as a head teacher.
Lead Professional role examples
Check which of the following items you listed:
professional guidance to teachers as individuals and
in the development of school programmes
counselling pupils and parents on ethics, norms and
values of the school
spokesperson for the whole school on all educational
participation in subject panels, curriculum development
and other external professional activities
member of School Heads' Association.
Most jobs, not just that of a school head, involve different,
maybe conflicting roles. Achieving a balance between them
is very important. The school head who does not, or perhaps
can not, provide professional leadership will not be a credible
person in the eyes of his staff. Yet a school head who fails
in the role of Chief Executive perhaps should have stayed
in the classroom.
Make a list of all the tasks you carry out as head of your school
in a typical week. Beside each task indicate whether it is your
Chief Executive Role with CE in brackets or whether it is your
Leading Professional Role with LP in the brackets. Which role,
CE or LP, has the largest number of tasks in your week?
In your list of CE tasks you might have included 'signing
purchase orders at 3.20'. In the LP the tasks might have included
'teaching Mathematics in Grade 4 on Mondays from 08.30 - 09.30'
You may have found separating some tasks between these roles
quite difficult. For example, when you are chairing meetings,
such as a staff meeting, you have both a Chief Executive and
a Lead Professional role. The two roles both support and conflict
with each other. Achieving a balance is important, and yet
is quite difficult. What is important is that you realise
their existence and work to improve your skills at carrying
them out effectively.
Indicators of an effective school head
In Module 6, Monitoring
School Effectiveness, we will be considering how we may
evaluate the effectiveness of a school. Here let us consider
how we might determine whether or not a school head is an
The list of items in Fig 6 might be used to help determine whether
or not a school head is an effective manager.
(1) Do you agree with the three items included here? Would you
include anything else?
(2) These items have been written to describe an effective school
head. Now rewrite them for a head who is definitely weak in
his or her job. Notice that they are written in an abbreviated
form, without wasting words.
Fig 6 Indicators of an effective school head
The three items included here provide some essential characteristics
of effectiveness with regards to the work done by a school
head. Notice that the list is not about an effective school,
nor is it concerned with describing the detailed tasks of
a school manager, such as planning the curriculum. We will
come back to these again in Module
6. Not only do we need to explain what effectiveness is,
but also what effectiveness is not. In the same way as we
apply grades to the work done by pupils, so we should be able
to describe the work of the school head as excellent, good,
fair or below expectation, as appropriate, by using descriptive
criteria such as you have just attempted to write.
In this unit we have looked at the main elements in school
management. This has involved identifying the five main functions
of a school head: planning, organising, directing, supervising
and evaluating, and some of the tasks associated with each
function. We have drawn distinctions between school heads
as Chief Executives and as Lead Professionals. Lastly we have
identified how indicators may be written up to produce criteria
for evaluating the effectiveness of a school head. One item
concerned human relations, which is the focus of our next