Ministers are in talks about funding a new school leadership college that would parachute graduates fresh out of university into headteacher, deputy and assistant headteacher positions after just two years of training, TES can reveal.
The college is the brainchild of three of education’s most high-profile figures: Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw; Sir Anthony Seldon, former master of Wellington College; and free-school pioneer Toby Young.
Mr Young said it was “highly likely” that students leaving the college – which will be based at the University of Buckingham – would have qualified teacher status before they led schools. But even this has yet to be confirmed.
The founders of the Buckingham Institute of School Leadership argue that it is needed to tackle a shortfall in good headteachers, described as a “crisis” by Mr Young.
News that ministers are in discussions about funding the new institute comes after Sir Michael wrote to education secretary Nicky Morgan proposing the scheme. His letter contained a blistering attack on the existing National College for Teaching and Leadership – set up to train the country’s heads – which he said has “failed to deliver”.
Sir Anthony – who is now vice-chancellor at Buckingham, the UK’s first private university – said that too many heads today were in the role without “any clear idea of why they are there or what they have to offer”.
“Nothing matters more than the quality of leadership – nothing,” he told TES. “We can bring in better people, we can bring in more great people into the system.
“We can prepare them better so they are more compassionate, wise, accomplished, rounded leaders rather than mean, sausage-factory, league-table-obsessed people.”
But union leaders have warned that introducing school leaders who have such limited experience of education could be risky.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, said: “I’m pretty sceptical of fast-track schemes. Strong and effective leadership is based on a level of experience, particularly in the classroom, and then going on from there.”
This is an edited version of an article in the 15 April edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full story here, or to subscribe, click here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here. TES magazine is available at all good newsagents.