The tradition of having a headteacher orchestrating the financial aspects of a school district is possibly coming to an end. In the past, the headteacher was someone that was once an educator, next moved on to being a department head, and then eventually was hired to become the headteacher. They rose up through the ranks of education, starting at the ground level and then after getting the suitable master’s degree or even doctorate, became the leader of the school. The daily operation of the school was left in the headteacher’s hands. However, just because this has always been done, is it wise?
Most headteachers have little knowledge about running a business. They have usually no financial background beyond what an ordinary person would have. Yet, we hand over the reigns of the school to them because they have the experience of teaching and know the problems facing the institution. But do they have the experience and know-how needed to fix these problems?
Is a Change Needed?
Schools across the globe are getting pummeled by accusations that they are not properly educating the students. Mathematics, science, and literacy skills are declared to be at an all time low by the pundits. Parents are pointing the finger at the headteachers.
Financially, schools can’t support themselves. They are dependent on receiving money from the government to ensure survival. The price of a free education means that the school is dependent on others to exist. Are the funds that the schools are receiving spent wisely? Are there better ways to use this money?
The idea of a traditional headteacher may be part of the problem. Tough personnel and financial decisions could be better off left in the hands of a businessman. An executive that is eyeing the bottom line and making appropriate choices to correct the problem. Someone that is far enough away from the way districts have always been ran so they can see the forest from the trees.
Chief Executive Officer
Struggling school managements are searching for ways to turn around failing schools. In many countries, the headteacher is being replaced by a chief executive officer (CEO). CEOs are usually found in huge companies in the business world. They are the highest ranking executive and manage the operations and resources of a company.
By hiring a CEO, the idea is to introduce private market objectives into the school system. Also, it is following the concept that has been used by academies and private schools previously. The school board and headteachers are replaced by one all-powerful CEO. The goal is to provide an education by a fully, self-functioning educational body that does not need outside assistance. If the school is losing money, then the CEO is not doing the job they were hired for.
But What About the Students?
With a headteacher in charge of the institution, the students are usually the main priority. Right or wrong, many times the success of the students on standardised testing is the intention of the headteacher. People analysis these scores and proclaim whether the school is succeeding or failing based on these numbers.
Will a CEO have that same viewpoint? Is a quality education the main goal or a financially successful institution? Is the solution to raise a failing, financially-strapped school into a functional one by bringing someone from the business world a sound one? These are all questions we have to ask ourselves. It will be interesting to witness the outcomes of these schools that have taken the step of employing a CEO. This will probably be the deciding factor on whether more CEOs are hired in the future for education. Only time will tell!