Book Review: The Headteacher’s Handbook

The Headteacher’s Handbook by Rae Snape

At a glance
  • An essential guide to leading a primary school to inspire new, current and aspiring headteachers.
  • Covers all the basic skills a headteacher needs to know from developing the curriculum to analysing data, working with key stakeholders and managing the budget.
  • Packed with priceless advice, models, research, motivational quotes and probing questions on key practical themes.
  • Written in a professional, compassionate and respectful tone.
  • Includes case studies and contributions from a range of influential and forward-thinking school leaders

Some leadership books are written as sink or swim survival toolkits and focus on Headship as firefighting or jungle warfare.

Then there are those that centre on surviving and thriving where leading a school is seen as an incredible privilege and a positive career choice helping to create the next generation.

Rae Snape’s new book is definitely in the glass half full camp and is all about succeeding as a strong instructional coach and community leader with authenticity and integrity rather than treading water.

It is an essential reference full of tips, advice and guidance supplied by someone who understands the challenges and joys of being a head of a primary school in the stretch zone with all of its frenetic buzz and exciting rhythms.

This practical and informative book covers all the bases and deliberately encourages you to stop, pause and reflect, ask high level questions and engage in self-scrutiny and plenty of soul-searching.

You will find a range of topics covered from settling in, vision and culture, accountability, curriculum, assessment and pedagogy, staying the course and all the routine management nuggets in between.

Headteacher / National Leader of Education Milton Road Primary School

The book draws on the author’s own hard graft as a headteacher but also includes the rich experiences, thoughts and tips of a range of other respected leaders including Andrew Morrish, Dr Kulvarn Atwal, Dr John Mynott, Hywel Roberts, Remi Atoyebi, and Christalla Jamil.

This meeting of school-savvy minds injects considerable credibility to the book with a wealth of life lessons and pearls of wisdom from the front-line.

Chapters are written with genuine, powerful and clear insights that act like lifelines and professional interactions on tap for when you need them. These allow you to explore and grow key dispositions such as empathy, inventiveness, persistence, humility and generosity.

This compendium is a font of comfort and succour offering plenty of musings, pointers and hot tips but isn’t a one-size fits all as it recognises the power of context and that the unique character of each school calls for heads to tailor their approach for the challenges they face.

What it does is enable you to be yourself, to be gutsy and to transfer your energy to your school community.

The Headteacher’s Handbook isn’t written to turn you into a superhead or a souped-up head but a selfless and pragmatic leader with their head screwed on who realises that headship can’t be done alone. It provides a canny mix of advice and opportunities for reflection on the journey to being an effective leader full of hope, humanity, hope and humour.

This friendly and accessible guide allows you to bend, not break and reminds you that you have a choice and effortlessly interweaves the 7Cs of being an effective headteacher into its pages so that you can be creative, courageous, challenging, communicative, confident, considerate and calm.

Everyone remembers a good headteacher and this consummate manual will help you cut the mustard and be memorable for all the right reasons.  It will help you make sense of who you are as a leader and what to do to stay a head of the game.

The verdict
  • An indispensable must-read manual for managing the day-to-day and beyond
  • Helps you take the view from the balcony, not the dance floor
  • Builds gravitas, a winning mentality and helps you pull the right levers to ensure success
  • Helps you develop a deeper understanding of your leadership journey
  • Develops both the will and skill to develop a successful school community
  • Provides the insights so you can be a headteacher and still sleep at night
Upgrade if….

You are looking for a can-do corpus of quality support to help you excel as an agile, resilient, ambitious and respected headteacher comfortable in your own shoes.

Cost: £24.99

You can find Rae on Twitter here @RaeSnape.

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