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Heads' union hands its top job to a number two

The new president of the Secondary Heads Association, Peter Miller, has a daunting task ahead of him - and not just because he succeeds the high-profile John Dunford.

As a deputy head of a grant-maintained school, he scores a double first. Until now, only headteachers have worn the chains of office - and no one from a GM school has had the job.

Mr Miller also follows in the footsteps of presidents who were passionate supporters of comprehensive schools.

He is careful to explain that the reason parents at Wrenn school, Wellingborough, voted by 85 per cent for GM status were not purely ideological. The school still proudly defends its comprehensive ethos, he says, and he is concerned that other GM schools want greater selection.

Mr Miller says that all schools should have equitable funding and believes that there should be a local democratic tier co-ordinating schools in its area.

Nevertheless, he has become a convert to the style of management at the school - he is a member of its 10-strong senior management team - and believes Wrenn is better maintained because of its status. "The greater flexibility allows easier planning of both staffing and the curriculum," he says.

As president he will be hoping to promote the concept of headship teams and will fight to protect the role of deputy heads. The union has seen many of its deputy members made redundant in recent years.

Mr Miller is one of three deputies at Wrenn and has taken part enthusiastically in some of the "team-building" schemes set up by his head, Harry Darby, including micro-light flying. He is looking forward to a spin on the go-cart course this autumn.

According to Mr Darby: "He'll bring a lot of experience as a hands on, working deputy to the post of president. He's a very thoughtful and logical man, but also very personable - if he is travelling by train it doesn't take long for him to be on best terms with the whole carriage."

He also has a reputation in the school for setting off the burglar alarms when he arrives, as is his custom, early in the morning.

Mr Miller's theme for the year is "Achieving the Best for All". He says: "We must seek to ensure that all children have the best possible opportunities to achieve their full potential, wherever they live and whatever type of school they attend. The application of market forces to education has been a disaster. "

And as a deputy he will also be lobbying the union to accept senior managers as members, but he may accept as a compromise changing its name to the Secondary Heads and Deputies Association.

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