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 1 November 2023See updates
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 7245
Contents
  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 difference is that a deputy headteacher must deputise for the headteacher when they're absent from school.

A deputy headteacher may also take on the headteacher's responsibilities to advise the relevant body on pay recommendations for teachers, in the headteacher's absence. An assistant headteacher cannot make pay recommendations.

This is set out in paragraphs 45.1, 46.9 and 48.1 to 48.2 of the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) 2023.

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