What sounds better: Vice Head of School or Deputy Head of School?
August 18, 2014 8:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm up for a promotion at work! We are restructuring to include a Vice Principal position at the school I work at, but instead of a Principal, we have a Head of School. I've been asked to select the title I want. So should I go for Vice Head of School or Deputy Head of School?
posted by pick_the_flowers to Work & Money (23 answers total)
Deputy sounds better. Vice only really rings well for Vice Principal or Vice President, I think. Congrats!
posted by alona at 8:19 AM on August 18

To my ear, "Vice" sounds senior to "Deputy"

But I have a background in the private sector. I suspect that people with a government background might have the opposite reading. Can you let us know who you want your title to communicate with? Is it mostly educators and/or government?
posted by OrangeDisk at 8:21 AM on August 18

"Vice Head" sounds super awkward.
posted by griphus at 8:23 AM on August 18 [8 favorites]

In my experience with private school, the folks below Head are usually styled as Deans. Will you have a specific purview (e.g., Dean of Students, Dean of Administration)?
posted by decathecting at 8:24 AM on August 18 [8 favorites]

Oh please go with "Deputy Head of School" and not "Vice Head of School". It sounds so so so much better. Congratulations!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:31 AM on August 18 [5 favorites]

If you told me you were "Deputy Head of School", I would ask to see your badge. I like Dean of Students, but if the choice is only between the two mentioned, I am a Vice Head of School guy.
posted by 724A at 8:34 AM on August 18

I would go with Assistant Head of School, which appears to be more widely-used than either.
posted by magicbus at 8:36 AM on August 18 [8 favorites]

In the UK, schools (actual schools, for those under 18) have a headmaster (or mistress) and a deputy head. Vice head sounds both pretentious and wierd to these British ears.
posted by epo at 8:38 AM on August 18 [1 favorite]

A "Vice Head of School" sound like you're the head of vice, not the vice-head.
posted by Phalene at 8:53 AM on August 18 [5 favorites]

To my ear, "Deputy Head of School" sounds better. However, I work in government contracting, where there are Directors and Deputy Directors of everything, so I'm very used to hearing "Deputy" in place of "Vice."

Prior to working in government circles, however, I echo 724A's comment -- if you told me you were "Deputy Head of School," I would ask to see your badge. I imagine much of the general public might have a similar sort of reaction, if only in their heads.

That said, "Vice Head" sounds odd to me.

I like magicbus's comment. "Assistant Head of School," is probably most appropriate. People have heard "Assistant Principal" and other "Assistant" positions throughout educational environments.
posted by tckma at 8:58 AM on August 18

I have an enamel pin that I bought in the UK years ago that reads: VICE HEAD GIRL which I bought specifically because it sounded bad to my American ears. I guess it depends on usage in your area.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:12 AM on August 18

I had the same thought as Phalene. My second thought was about Miami Vice.

Deputy Head sounds much better, IMO.
posted by Salamander at 9:19 AM on August 18

Vice Head sounds very corporate, I would go with Deputy instead.
posted by elizardbits at 9:26 AM on August 18

Are there job postings in your area for similar roles, so you can see which is the more commonly used title?

I think that "what will be of most benefit when I apply for my next job" should trump "which one sounds better".
posted by dvrmmr at 9:38 AM on August 18 [1 favorite]

Assistant Head of School seems to be a widely used term. Deputy/Vice, not so much. See, for instance the usage on the web site of independent school placement firm Carney Sandoe.
posted by Jahaza at 9:55 AM on August 18

I work in Massachusetts, so this may be off base but when I had a chance to make up my own title as third in command of a high school, I went with Dean of Students. We had an Executive Director and an Educational Director. I thought Dean of Students covered everything in between the overall running of the school and it makes it clear I'm not charge of directing the educational aspects, more that I'm in charge of overseeing the kids.

Can you be Educational Director? It's encompassing enough to mean everything and nothing, much like Dean of Students.

If you're in a place where Dean and Ed Director don't fly, I'd go with Deputy Head of School.
posted by kinetic at 9:57 AM on August 18

Vice Head of School sounds like some drug code word for the resident Spicoli. Avoid.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:27 AM on August 18 [1 favorite]


Although that sounds sheriff-y - so, yuck!

I like Dean of Education, or similar, too.
posted by jbenben at 11:46 AM on August 18

While 'Dean of ___' sounds nice, be aware that introducing that nomenclature into an administrative hierarchy will likely breed resentment and jockeying for position.

Most of the private schools in my area use 'Assistant Head of School'.
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:05 PM on August 18

I'd want no title with "vice" in it.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 1:15 PM on August 18

Kids will make fun of any title with "vice" in it.
posted by JimN2TAW at 1:42 PM on August 18

DHS makes a better acronym, in my opinion, than VHS (*snicker*).
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 2:00 PM on August 18

"Deputy Head" is the standard terminology in the UK, and sounds far better than "Vice Head" at any rate.
posted by Ted Maul at 3:48 AM on August 19

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