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Novermber 2021 Iris
Novermber 2021 Iris

The Headteacher’s Handbook

October 15, 2021, 10:14 GMT+1
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The Headteacher’s Handbook
  • An engaging title packed with invaluable advice for primary school leaders
The Headteacher’s Handbook

At a glance

  • An essential guide to leading a primary school to inspire current and aspiring heads
  • Covers all the basic skills a headteacher needs to know
  • Packed with priceless advice, models, research, motivational quotes and probing questions
  • Written in a professional, compassionate and respectful tone
  • Includes contributions from 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.

Others centre on surviving and thriving and see leading a school as an incredible privilege – 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.

This is the Haynes Manual for primary heads, an essential reference full of advice supplied by someone who understands the challenges and joys of being a leader in the stretch zone with all its frenetic buzz and exciting rhythms.

All the bases are covered, and the book deliberately encourages you to stop, pause and reflect, ask high-level questions and engage in self-scrutiny and plenty of soul-searching.

Topics include everything from settling in, vision and culture, to accountability, curriculum, assessment and pedagogy, staying the course, and all the routine management nuggets in between.

The book draws on the author’s own hard graft as a headteacher but also includes the rich experiences 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 thanks to a wealth of life lessons and pearls of wisdom from the front line.

Chapters are written with clear insights and allow you to explore and grow key dispositions such as empathy, inventiveness, persistence, humility and generosity.

One thing this compendium is not is a one-size-fits-all: 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.

It enables 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, and humour.

It gives you the tools to bend, not break and reminds you that you have a choice, effortlessly interweaving the 7Cs of being an effective headteacher into its pages so that you can be creative, courageous, challenging, communicative, confident, considerate and calm while in charge.


  • A must-read manual for managing the day-to-day and beyond
  • Builds gravitas and helps you pull the right levers to ensure success
  • Helps you develop a deeper understanding of your leadership journey
  • Develops the will and skill needed to lead a successful school community

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.

The Headteacher’s Handbook: The essential guide to leading a primary school by Rae Snape is available now for £24.99 here.

For more information call 020 7631 5600, email or visit

Reviewed by John Dabell