Head teacher
Principal (school) redirects here.

A head teacher or school principal (also known as headteacher, headmaster, headmistress or the Head, sometimes informally in Scots
Scots language
Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

, the heidie or heedie) is the most senior teacher
A teacher or schoolteacher is a person who provides education for pupils and students . The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out at a school or other place of formal education. In many countries, a person who wishes to become a teacher must first obtain specified professional...

, leader
A leader is one who influences or leads others.Leader may also refer to:- Newspapers :* Leading article, a piece of writing intended to promote an opinion, also called an editorial* The Leader , published 1909–1967...

 and manager
Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively...

 of a school
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...


In Scotland, such officials are sometimes known as the "rector
The word rector has a number of different meanings; it is widely used to refer to an academic, religious or political administrator...

", most commonly in independent schools
Independent school (UK)
An independent school is a school that is not financed through the taxation system by local or national government and is instead funded by private sources, predominantly in the form of tuition charges, gifts and long-term charitable endowments, and so is not subject to the conditions imposed by...

. In North America and Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 (including Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

), such officials are usually known as the "school principal", but some schools use the term "headmaster" or "Head Master". Some American public schools, such as Boston Latin School
Boston Latin School
The Boston Latin School is a public exam school founded on April 23, 1635, in Boston, Massachusetts. It is both the first public school and oldest existing school in the United States....

and Milpitas High School
Milpitas High School
Milpitas High School is a public four-year comprehensive high school in Milpitas, California, a suburban community adjacent to San Jose. It is one of two high schools within the Milpitas Unified School District....

, also use the term "headmaster", either because of its history or historical connections.

The terms "headmaster" and "headmistress" used to be the standard throughout both the state and private sectors, with "head teacher" usually being used only to refer to them collectively. In recent years, however, it has become usual to officially use the gender-neutral term in state schools. Nevertheless, the gender-specific terms are still in common use, and may be in more formal use in some schools, particularly the remaining state grammar school
Grammar school
A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching classical languages but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school.The original purpose of mediaeval...

s. Independent schools usually still officially use the gender-specific terms. Some use other terms, such as "high master". Independent schools frequently use other titles for officials under the head teacher.

The official term for the third most senior teacher in state schools (as in many independent schools) was "second master" or "second mistress", but these terms have generally gone out of use in the state sector.

Some schools use terms such as "Head of the Upper School" or "Head of the Middle School" to identify those people who are in charge of a particular division of the school, but who are under the direction of the school headmaster.

"Principal" or "Head of School" is used as the title of the head administrator of an elementary school
Elementary school
An elementary school or primary school is an institution where children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as elementary or primary education. Elementary school is the preferred term in some countries, particularly those in North America, where the terms grade school and grammar...

, middle school
Middle school
Middle School and Junior High School are levels of schooling between elementary and high schools. Most school systems use one term or the other, not both. The terms are not interchangeable...

, or high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

 in some English-speaking countries, including the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, India and Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. Public schools in the United States generally use the title principal whereas private school
Private school
Private schools, also known as independent schools or nonstate schools, are not administered by local, state or national governments; thus, they retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students' tuition, rather than relying on mandatory...

s in the United States sometimes use the title Head of School. Books and documents relating to the early days of public education in the United States show that the title was originally Principal Teacher.


While some head teachers still retain some teaching responsibility, other than in very small schools, most of their duties are managerial
Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively...

 and pastoral
Pastoral care
Pastoral care is the ministry of care and counseling provided by pastors, chaplains and other religious leaders to members of their church or congregation, or to persons of all faiths and none within institutional settings. This can range anywhere from home visitation to formal counseling provided...


In Australia, the Head Teacher is in charge of one (in the case of a major subject) or multiple (often in smaller schools) specific departments, such as English, Maths, Science, etc., but maintains full teaching duties and status. They are considered part of the school executive, and often a Head Teacher position is a stepping-stone into administration.


In larger schools, the principal is assisted by one or more "vice-principals", "assistant principals", "associate principals", or "deputy principals". Their position is secondary to the principal with regard to school governance. Assistant principals generally perform specific duties such as handling student discipline, curriculum, student council or student activities whereas the principal has the ultimate responsibility for the school as a whole (including faculty and staff, physical plant, etc.).


In many Australian schools, a principal is the head administrator
Academic administration
An academic administration is a branch of university or college employees responsible for the maintenance and supervision of the institution and separate from the faculty or academics, although some personnel may have joint responsibilities...

 of a school
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

 who has been appointed to her/his position by the school board, superintendent, or other body. The principal, often in conjunction with the school board, makes the executive decisions that govern the school, as well as having the authority over the employment (and in some cases firing) of teachers. The principal is often the chief disciplinarian
School discipline
School discipline is the system of rules, punishments and behavioral strategies appropriate to the regulation of children and the maintenance of order in schools. Its aim is to control the students actions and behavior....

 of the student
A student is a learner, or someone who attends an educational institution. In some nations, the English term is reserved for those who attend university, while a schoolchild under the age of eighteen is called a pupil in English...

s. In many US schools, however, student discipline is the vice-principal
In larger school systems, a principal is often assisted by someone known as a vice-principal or assistant principal. Unlike the principal, the vice-principal does not have quite the decision-making authority that the principal carries...

's responsibility, and broader school decisions are the duty of the principal. The title Head Teacher is also used in Australia to denote a head of subject or department (e.g., Head Teacher of English).


In Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, the post of Principal Teacher (PT) is held by the third most senior teacher in a Primary School, whose job it is to oversee a certain aspect of the school's organisation, or by the most senior teacher of a department/faculty of a high school, whose job it is to run and manage that specific department/faculty.

United States

In 1999, there were about 129,000 "principals" in the United States. In the early decades of public education, the full title was "principal teacher", which accounts for the present day title having an adjectival form, essentially being a foreshortened version of the original full title.

Yet the term Headmaster is still used.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.