Working as the headmaster of an ESL school

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The post of the headmaster (principal) is the most prestigious and responsible post in ESL teaching.

The headmaster is the embodiment of everything an ESL educational institution stands for: the reputation and the academic excellence of an educational institution depend ultimately on the headmaster. For the novice ESL teacher who would aspire to become a headmaster, here are some of the main duties and responsibilities that would fall within your remit.

  • To oversee and be responsible for the efficient day-to-day running of the school in all its functions, and the well-being and safety of its pupils, teaching and non-teaching employees.
  • To attend to the management of the curriculum in conjunction with the director of studies (DoS), the heads of department, and the examinations officer.
  • To attend to matters concerning serious breaches of discipline.
  • To employ or fire teaching and non-teaching staff.
  • To enrol new pupils and expel incorrigible pupils.
  • To be responsible for the financial management of the school in conjunction with the bursar and the governors.
  • To promote and advertise the school.
  • To report to the governors on the state of the school.
  • To hold regular meetings concerning the management, performance, and development of the ESL teaching staff with the DoS, the heads of department, and the examinations officer.
  • To ensure the quality of the teaching and the examination results.
  • To be a model for academic, pastoral, and moral attainment.
  • To monitor the staffs’ ESL teaching in conjunction with the DoS, and the heads of the department.
  • To monitor and evaluate the ESL departments in conjunction with the DoS, the heads of department, and the examinations officer.
  • To monitor pupils’ progress in conjunction with the DoS, the heads of department, and the examinations officer.

The list of duties is quite formidable although some would say that a DoS has a more demanding job: this may be true, but it is the headmaster who is responsible for the running of the school. Even if a headmaster delegates authority to the deputy, this will not absolve the headmaster from blame if something happens that negatively affects the school or the well being of a student or employee; this is because the headmaster may be vicariously liable for the actions of his employees. If you are interested in becoming a headmaster, you will definitely have to demonstrate that you have leadership abilities, confidence, a degree of charisma, organizational skills, ‘people skills, and problem-solving skills. Although you may not be as efficient an administrator as a DoS, you will definitely have to be able to lead and inspire others who will look to you to set the example.

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