Prepare for In-Tray Exercise for Deputy Head

Are you in the running for a deputy head or other senior leadership team position? In many assistant headteacher recruitment processes you can expect to be asked to complete an in-tray exercise. Learn more about this test and how to prepare on this page.
In-Tray Practice

Practice in-tray and e-tray concepts online. Learn about tasks prioritization and decision making.

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The in-tray exercise for assistant headteachers is designed to assess your work based skills. This test is usually taken at an assessment centre further down the recruitment process. Learn more about what these tests entail and how you can prepare for it with our in-tray exercise preparation pack.

What is in a deputy head in-tray exercise?

The in-tray exercise for deputy heads contains hypothetical tasks similar to those that would appear in your to do list if you took the job. At the start of the exercise you are given a scenario in which to frame your work. In-tray exercise examples include include just another day on the job, deputising for the head who is absent, or dealing with a sudden inspection and so on.

You are given a list of messages, tasks, diary appointments and more to work through against an existing schedule for the day. The types of situation that will land on your desk reflect the all-rounder nature of the job, and include healthy and safety, child protection, sub-par exam results and so on. There are several things that you may be asked to do with your in-tray, from ranking items in order of urgency and importance to explaining how you would deal with each item and why you chose that course of action. The recruitment team are not necessarily looking for a “right answer”, but at your reasons why you have given the answer you have given.

In-tray tests are time limited, you probably don’t have enough time to finish everything, so you must be able to prioritise tasks in order to cover the most important points.

What skills are tested in an in-tray exercise for deputy head?

In-tray exercises are valuable for the work based skills that are tested. The skills you are tested against include:

  • Responding to priorities
  • Decision making
  • Communication skills
  • Crisis management

Prepare for the deputy head in-tray exercise

The in-tray exercise contains several challenges to carry out the tasks in the time allocated. Preparation ahead of your assessment is key to familiarising you with the test, increasing your confidence in your skills, and allowing you to hit the ground running in the limited time you have available. Our in-tray exercise practice pack is designed to give you all the preparation you need, including solving guides and explanations for each question.

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