T'other day I asked a friend and former colleague, an experienced, well-respected teacher in her late fifties, how the new headie was doing. As you do, when a school has its first new head teacher in a quarter of a century. "Oh, he's good," she said. And added, quite seriously, "He's very approachable."
I couldn't help wondering at this reply. What, in the name of heaven, would you expect a new headie to be if not "approachable"? What is there about the job of running a secondary school that would make for unapproachability? Does the fact of promotion to this exalted post take a teacher out of the realms of mere mortals and put them beyond approachability?
I suppose in a way you might say that. It's a lonely place, the top of the pile - any pile only has limited standing room. You can't just drop into the staffroom for a cuppa and a gossip - because someone will moan about favouritism and knowing your place. But surely the days are long gone of the remote figure who smiled seldom and could be seen only by appointment? Who kept his tawse over his shoulder under his academic gown?
I hope so. And I hope there is not a new headteacher in the land who imagines that their promotion makes them anything more than the head facilitator, whose job is to listen as much as to act. To be approachable, in fact.