Job Description:

Headteachers manage schools. They create the right conditions for children and staff to achieve their best.

Job Category:

What you will do:

Depending on your experience, you could work in primary, secondary, special or independent schools and academies.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • setting the school’s values and communicating them to pupils, staff, parents and the community
  • creating and maintaining a healthy and safe space for learning
  • deciding staff priorities and delegating tasks
  • setting high expectations of achievement for staff and pupils
  • keeping to rules on equal opportunities
  • using data to track performance and produce reports
    informing parents and pupils about progress
  • selecting, supporting, assessing and developing staff
  • leading and attending meetings
  • controlling school finances
  • working with external advisers and school governors


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • leadership skills
  • business management skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • customer service skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Headteacher (Principal or School Principal in some regions), you typically need to have a strong educational background, relevant qualifications, and significant experience in the field of education. Here’s a list of subjects and skills that can be valuable if you aspire to become a Headteacher:

  1. English Language and Literature: Strong communication skills, including reading, writing, and speaking, are essential for educational leadership.
  2. Mathematics: Basic math skills are necessary for managing school budgets and analyzing educational data.
  3. Science: A general understanding of science can be beneficial, especially if you plan to lead a school with a focus on science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).
  4. Social Studies: Knowledge of social studies, history, and geography can contribute to a well-rounded education perspective.
  5. Foreign Languages: Proficiency in a foreign language may be valuable, especially if your school has a diverse student population.

Post School

To become a headteacher you’ll need experience as a teacher, usually as a deputy head or other senior manager.

You’ll have experience of extra responsibilities, for example as a co-ordinator of literacy or head of pastoral care.

You’ll need training and qualifications in school management, for example the National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) or the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH).

Another option is to join the Future Leaders fast-track programme, run by Ambition School Leadership.

You’ll need to pass background checks – in the UK this is by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll work at least 45 hours a week, for 40 weeks of the year. Headteachers get long holidays but you’ll usually spend some holiday time working.

You’ll also attend meetings outside school hours.

Career Path & Progression:

Due to the variety of schools, there are opportunities to move between different types and sizes of schools.

You could also train to be a school inspector, an education adviser, or become a teacher-training lecturer in a college or university.