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Nick Clegg launches a 'Champions League' of elite heads to tackle underperforming schools

The government is to create a “champions league” of elite headteachers that can be parachuted in to help improve the performance of struggling schools, the deputy prime minister will announce today.

Nick Clegg (pictured), in a speech at Morpeth School in Tower Hamlets, East London, is due to issue a call to “outstanding leaders” to join a new national programme to better support schools.

“There will be a pool of top talent within the profession, a Champions League of headteachers, made up of heads and deputy heads, who will stand ready to move to schools in challenging circumstances that need outstanding leaders,” he is expected to say.

“So if you’re a school facing tough challenges and finding it hard to recruit an exceptional leader, you’ll be able to call on this team and request someone with a proven leadership track record.

“We’re looking for experienced headteachers ready for a new challenge, or bright deputy heads looking to take the next step and lead a school. If you are selected, we’d need you to make a real commitment to the school, its staff and its children.”

Heads signing up to the programme can expect money to relocate to different parts of the country and professional support to turn schools around, the Liberal Democrat leader is expected to add, with the first people in post from September 2014.

“Initially the scheme will start small, but our ambition is for this team to become as important to our education system as Teach First,” Mr Clegg is due to say.

His comments come after the deputy prime minister made news at the weekend by criticising coalition education policies that allow free schools to appoint unqualified teachers.

Some Conservative politicians were reported to have been angry he had broken ranks, but Mr Clegg will renew his calls today for free schools and academies to forced to comply with “core standards of teaching and care”.

This means all schools should have to appoint qualified staff, follow the national curriculum and meet minimum nutritional standards for meals.

He is also due to widen his attack on both Conservative and Labour education policies.

“Ultimately, the Labour Party is hostile to school autonomy – their instincts always take them back to Whitehall’s heavy hand,” Mr Clegg is expected to say.

“Meanwhile, many on the Right are hostile to setting minimum educational standards. At least they are in academies and free schools. In maintained schools, however, the Conservatives seem to believe it is alright to micromanage things down to which ancient British kings are taught in history class.

“All that I ask is that we seek to deliver the same balance of freedoms and core standards across all schools.”

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