Our school recently advertised two positions in the SMT (or SLT, as I think it’s called now – anyway, officially important people!) We’d been told about these in the summer and I spent ages umming and ahhing about applying (Though not for the pastoral one. Never for anything pastoral – completely unpredictable workload, all those personal issues – ughh!).
If you’d asked me a few years ago, I’d have definitely said I’d apply. At that stage I was all set on going for promotion and quite fancied being a Head. But I decided against it this time – and once I’d made that decision, I immediately felt it was the right one.
So what’s changed? Well, it’s partly personal – I have more external calls on my time these days, some of my own making and some otherwise. But it isn’t just that. We often default to thinking that promotion must automatically be a good thing, but if we sit back and think why we actually want the job, it becomes rather less clear cut.
In this case, I figured that the main reason I’d consider applying for it was because I was worried what the person who got it would be like, and I’d have to work quite closely with them on some things. Reasons not to included a higher work load, a need to be on the premises for longer, a reduction in teaching and an inevitably altered relationship with my colleagues. The higher workload would probably also have included doing more things I don’t like too much. When you put it like that, the decision not to apply seems pretty obvious, really! Undoubtedly if I don’t like the appointment that’s made I will be kicking myself for not going for it (though if I’d gone for it and then someone I didn’t rate got appointed, I’d surely have been even more fed up!). But that really isn’t a good enough reason.
A few people have talked to me about it – largely expressing surprise at my decision (though they would, wouldn’t they – they aren’t going to say “well, you’d be a ridiculous candidate and would have been useless at the job even if they’d given it to you”, even if that’s what they thought!). The content was largely along the lines of “you could do that job perfectly well”. My honest answer to that is “Yes, I think I could do it. But I don’t want to.” This seemed to slightly nonplus a few people, but I was interested to have a discussion with a colleague who’d come to exactly the same conclusion themselves. More money and more status isn’t everything – having time to enjoy your job, spend time with your family and friends and pursue outside interests – oh, and actually get some sleep as well – seems more important.