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Freedom to collaborate

John Chowcat misrepresents the views of the Secondary Heads Association on greater autonomy for schools and on the relationship between heads and the local authority (TES, January 21).

The freedoms we seek are not intended to re-create the market-based competitive world of the grant-maintained era, but to bring greater freedom from the over-accountability and excessive bidding, form-filling and bureaucracy that bedevils the work of heads in the current era.

That is why we support the Government's New relationship with schools, which was based on the SHA notion of intelligent accountability. And that is why we believe that the role of the local authority should be more clearly defined. The greater freedom that we demand has to be within a strong framework of collaboration of the sort that the best local authorities already promote.

The future we seek is not the unrestrained competition that John Chowcat describes, but one in which school autonomy and collaborative partnerships co-exist and the local authority finds a new, more strategic role, not least to ensure that the aims of the Children Act are fulfilled.

John Dunford General secretary Secondary Heads Association 130 Regent Road, Leicester

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