In the first chapter, we recognised an outstanding head teacher as the first and most important characteristic of a good school. But do we have sufficient outstanding head teachers to meet our needs for better leadership in our schools? Around 1000 out of 20,000 schools in England do not have a permanent head tea-

cher. Steve Munby, the head of the National College of School Leadership (NCSL), told his annual conference in 2008 that more than half of our current head teachers are likely to have retired by 2012.1 Clearly, if we are to attract the most able potential head teachers into applying for a headship, we need to make the position more appealing. Salary is one incentive. Some city academies in London are now offering their head

teachers a salary of over £120,000, and salaries for head teachers in England have risen relatively rapidly in recent years. We will also have to provide better training to prospective head teachers. The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (www.ssatrust.org) is running a very successful programme for aspirant young head teachers, and the NCSL does excellent work. However, the best way to persuade more able heads of department and leading teachers to consider becoming a head teacher is to give them much greater freedom to take the decisions necessary to improve their schools. Government and local authorities should provide the broad framework of the school’s curriculum and fair accountability, but they should avoid micro-managing maintained schools. In his excellent book on the subject, Jeffrey Fox recommends a ten-part guide to good

leadership.2 I accept that our American colleagues use language differently from ourselves, but head teachers in all countries might find his formula for success of interest.