Deputy vs assistant headteacher: role comparison

Understand the similarities and key differences between deputy and assistant headteachers and get to grips with which might work best in your school.

Last reviewed on 17 October 2022
See updates
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 7245
  1. Duties of each role
  2. Many elements are the same
  3. Key differences
  4. The ‘best’ leadership structure will depend on your school
  5. Can I change my staff member’s job title?

Duties of each role

Maintained schools

The professional duties of deputy and assistant headteachers are mostly the same.

As well as carrying out the professional duties of a teacher, deputy and assistant headteachers play a major role in:

  • Formulating the aims and objectives of the school
  • Establishing the policies through which they are to be achieved
  • Managing staff and resources to that end
  • Monitoring progress towards their achievement

They must also "undertake any professional duties of the headteacher reasonably delegated by the headteacher".

The only difference is that a deputy headteacher must deputise for the headteacher when they're absent from school.

This is explained in paragraphs 48.1 to 48.2 (page 46) of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD).


Check if your deputy and/or assistant headteachers are contractually entitled to the conditions set out in the STPCD. 

If they are, their duties will be the same as for maintained schools (see above).