Head of English Advertisement: The ‘Person Specification’

Turgid Specifications

Yesterday out of idle interest I was looking at a Head of English advertisement for a post beginning in September 2016. The details were contained in two parts – which is perhaps the norm nowadays – the first, a Job Description, and the second, a Person Specification. Reading both was a wearyingly noxious experience. Specification? Perhaps Mary Shelley could write on behalf of someone she knows….

Both were steeped entirely in management terms. I mean entirely about provision, responsibility, development, monitoring, implementation, control, operation, to formulate, to delegate, to liaise, to ensure, to identify [all these to dos in multiples] and to comply.

I used to write job descriptions – not for Head of English but for teaching posts, including positions of responsibility – and naturally there would be reference to actual commitments and defined responsibilities, but I would always provide a humane context in which this was meant to operate, and to intone the philosophical environment in which all aspects of the job would take place.

None of that, at all, in either of the requirements for the job I was reviewing. There was no sense that a person with personable qualities was being sought! There was definitely no sense that a person with any interest in or experience of being creative or encouraging creativity was of any pertinence. They needed to be organised. They needed to be a good team builder and player [yawn…..]. They needed to have a relevant degree [you think?]. They needed to have evidence of further study [fill in the disbelieving, sarcastic aside here:          ].

No mention of a sense of humour, even in as formulaic a way as the other platitudinous requisites. For example, what is your favourite joke?

How do you get down from a horse?

You don’t, you get it from a goose.

I know, I have gone too far, but I think I have made my point. I hope so.


5 thoughts on “Head of English Advertisement: The ‘Person Specification’

  1. We have just appointed a “Director”of English for September. It’s basically the HOD job plus a whole heap of other responsibilities and terrifying accountability. Certainly not for the faint-hearted and definitely not for an old fart like me. The humanity has all but disappeared from our Brave New corporate World of Education. It really is galling and almost unrecognisable. Humour is certainly not permitted…


    • Education has suffered this for some time, thus my delight in being away from its diminishing clutches. Haven’t tried corporate bingo! Will be reading your link again – shame, but I understand you need to use the pseudonym.


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