Why do you want to be a headteacher? & Why do you want to be Headteacher of our school?
“Why do you want to be a Headteacher?” is a common and important question for aspiring headteachers, as it allows the interviewer to assess your motivation, vision and suitability for the role. It is important to make sure you are ready and really want to make the jump from deputy to headteacher. There seems to be much more pressure and expectation for relatively new leaders to want to get there. Call me a dinosaur but I honestly think the more experience at all levels in a school the better prepared you will be for the role. Two current headteachers and a school governor have contributed to this article. Anyway back to the interview…
What to include in your answer
To answer “Why do you want to be a headteacher?” effectively, you should consider the following areas:
- Your passion for education and leadership. Explain why you love teaching and learning, and how you have developed your leadership skills throughout your career. Give examples of how you have inspired, supported and empowered others to achieve their goals. Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the headteacher position and the school you are applying to.
- Your vision for the school and its community. Show that you have done your research on the school’s strengths, challenges and opportunities. Describe how you would build on its achievements and address its areas of improvement. Outline your priorities and goals for the school, and how you would communicate and implement them with the staff, students, parents and other stakeholders. It can help to provide examples of when you have successfully influenced your team.
- Your values and principles. Highlight the core values and principles that guide your educational philosophy and leadership style. Explain how they align with the school’s ethos and mission. Provide examples of how you have applied them in your previous roles, and how you would uphold them as a headteacher.
- Your skills and experience. Showcase your relevant skills and experience that make you qualified and ready for the headteacher role. Mention any achievements or challenges that demonstrate your competence and potential. Emphasise your skills in areas such as curriculum development, staff development, student welfare, budget management, strategic planning, etc.
- Address any gaps in your experience head on. But talk about how you have or will fill these. This may be governance, school finances or working with contacts at the Local authority or academy trust leadership boards. Provide examples of professional development, support networks or even just research into that area. Make sure you address these when answering the other questions and through the interview tasks as well. I.e if there is a finance task (99% certainty) and that is your gap then make sure you don’t make glaring errors.
“Why do you want to be a Headteacher?” Example Answer
Just to get you started here is an example of a possible answer to “Why do you want to be a Headteacher?”, it goes without saying that you need to adapt this into your own style.
I want to be a headteacher because I am passionate about education and leadership. I believe that every child deserves the best possible education, and that every teacher deserves the best possible support and development. I have been a teacher for 15 years, and a deputy head for the last 5 years, and I have enjoyed every moment of it. I have learned a lot from working with different schools, colleagues and students, and I have always sought to improve myself and others. I have led various initiatives and projects that have improved teaching and learning, student achievement, staff morale and parental engagement. I have also faced and overcome many challenges, such as managing a tight budget, dealing with a difficult inspection, and leading a school through a pandemic. These experiences have prepared me for the headteacher role, and I am confident that I have the skills and experience to lead a school successfully.
Following an opening statement you need to focus down as to why your are applying to be headteacher of that school. In fact the question asked may well be, especially if you are currently a headteacher, “Why do you want to be the Headteacher of our school?”.
I am particularly interested in becoming the headteacher of this school, because I share its vision of providing a high-quality, inclusive and holistic education for all students. I have researched the school extensively, and I am impressed by its achievements and reputation. I also recognise its challenges and areas of improvement, such as raising attainment in maths, improving attendance and behaviour, and enhancing the school’s profile and partnerships. I have a clear and realistic vision of how I would address these issues, and how I would build on the school’s strengths and opportunities. My vision is to create a school that is a centre of excellence, innovation and community, where every student is challenged, supported and celebrated, and where every staff member is valued, respected and developed. I would communicate and implement this vision by working collaboratively and transparently with all stakeholders, and by creating a culture of trust, accountability and continuous improvement.
Vision and values
Next comes a chance to highlight your skills and personal values and ethos.
My vision is based on my values and principles, which are rooted in my educational philosophy and leadership style. I value excellence, integrity, equity, diversity, collaboration and creativity. I believe that every student can achieve their full potential, regardless of their background, abilities or circumstances. I believe that every staff member can grow and thrive, if they are given the right opportunities, feedback and recognition. I believe that every school can benefit from working with other schools, organisations and communities, to share best practices, resources and ideas. I believe that every school can foster a culture of innovation and creativity, by encouraging risk-taking, experimentation and reflection. These values and principles have guided my decisions and actions as a teacher and a leader, and they would continue to do so as a headteacher. I would ensure that they are reflected in the school’s policies, practices and culture, and that they are aligned with the school’s ethos and mission.
Selling Yourself (Well Your Skills and Strengths)
It may feel awkward but now is the time to sell yourself, not boasting but just confidently putting across why you are the right person for the headship. The interview panel need to be able to put their trust in you.
I believe that I am the right candidate for this job, because I have the passion, vision, values and skills to lead this school to the next level of excellence. I have the experience and knowledge to manage the operational and strategic aspects of the school, and to deal with any challenges or changes that may arise. I have the interpersonal and communication skills to build positive and productive relationships with all stakeholders, and to inspire and motivate them to achieve our common goals. I have the personal and professional qualities to be a role model, a mentor and a learner, and to uphold the highest standards of integrity, honesty and respect. I am eager to take on this role, and to work with you and the school community to make this school the best it can be. Thank you for your consideration.
How would you answer “Why do you want to be the headteacher of this school?” differently for a school with an outstanding OfSTED grading than requires improvement?
The answer to how you would shape your answer differently according to the school’s OfSTED grading will vary depending on the specific context and circumstances of each school, but here are some general guidelines and examples of how to approach it differently for a school with an outstanding OfSTED grading than one with a “requires improvement” grading:
For a school with an outstanding Ofsted grading, you should emphasise your admiration and respect for the school’s achievements and reputation, and your desire to maintain and enhance its excellence and innovation. You should also demonstrate your awareness of the challenges and opportunities that come with leading a high-performing school, such as keeping up with the changing demands and expectations of the education system, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and learning, and ensuring the well-being and motivation of the staff and students. You should also show your alignment with the school’s vision, values and ethos, and your ability to work collaboratively and transparently with all stakeholders.
Applying for a Headship at an Outstanding School
I want to be the headteacher of this school because I am impressed and inspired by its outstanding Ofsted grading and its reputation as a leading school in the region. I have seen first-hand the quality and diversity of the teaching and learning that takes place here, and the positive impact it has on the students’ academic and personal development. I share the school’s vision of providing a holistic, inclusive and challenging education for all students, and I value its ethos of excellence, respect and collaboration. I would love to be part of this school’s community, and to work with the staff, students, parents and governors to sustain and build on its achievements. I am aware of the challenges and opportunities that come with leading a high-performing school, and I am confident that I have the skills and experience to meet them. I have a track record of leading successful initiatives and projects that have improved teaching and learning, student outcomes, staff development and parental engagement in my previous roles. I also have the skills and qualities of an effective leader, such as communication, vision, innovation, problem-solving and resilience. I would ensure that the school continues to adapt and respond to the changing needs and expectations of the education system, and that it fosters a culture of continuous improvement and learning. I would also ensure that the well-being and motivation of the staff and students are prioritized and supported, and that the school’s achievements and strengths are celebrated and shared.
Applying for a Headship at a Requires Improvement School
For a school with a “requires improvement” grading, you should emphasise your understanding and empathy for the school’s challenges and areas of improvement, and your desire to help the school achieve its potential and goals. You should also demonstrate your confidence and competence in leading a school improvement journey, such as identifying and addressing the root causes of the issues, developing and implementing a clear and realistic action plan, monitoring and evaluating the progress and impact, and engaging and empowering the staff and students. You should also show your alignment with the school’s vision, values and ethos, and your ability to work collaboratively and transparently with all stakeholders. You need to demonstrate you have a track record of turning around a significant element of a school – a department, subject etc.
I want to be the headteacher of this school because I believe that this school has the potential and the ambition to become a great school, and I would love to help it achieve its goals and vision. I understand the challenges and areas of improvement that the school faces, as identified by the Ofsted report and the self-evaluation. I have the confidence and competence to lead a school improvement journey, as I have done successfully in my previous roles. I have the skills and experience to identify and address the root causes of the issues, such as curriculum design, assessment, behaviour (now give examples of significant change management you have led – Plan, do, review etc)
There is likely to be a question or a task linked to developing and implementing an improvement plan.
Final Thoughts on Answers to “Why do you want to be a School Leader?”
Applying for a headship is a challenging but rewarding process that requires careful preparation and research. This article provides some tips and guidelines on how to write an effective application and prepare for a successful interview. If you want an effective answer to why do you want to be a school leader use our examples and mix them with your own story.