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Blunkett threat scares off new head

GOVERNMENT threats to close schools with poor exam results have cost an inner-city comprehensive its new headteacher.

West Gate community college, Newcastle, this week began a frantic search for a new head after the prospective candidate - des-cribed as "outstanding" by the man he would have succeeded - said he could not face the prospect of years of Government criticism.

The school was one of 68 which, under plans unveiled last week by the Government, would be at risk because of three years of poor GCSE results. Outgoing head Phil Turner said the school, in Newcastle's tough west end district, had been turned around since failing an inspection four years ago. It as taken off special measures less than two years later.

Newcastle Council is so impressed by Mr Turner's work that it has just made him its director of education.

This week, he was speaking at a conference on improving inner-city schools.

Mr Turner's would-be successor had verbally accepted the headship but pulled out the day after Mr Blunkett's speech. He preferred not to speak to The TES about his decision. Mr Turner said: "He told me the last thing he needed was to be told that he was no good. It is understandable."

But he added: "Overnight, the past four years of hard work by my staff and governors have been rubbished. I feel devastated."

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