Pity daniel moynihan. The next time he attends a headteachers' conference he is likely to have a "Kick me" note stuck to his jacket or suffer some other form of ribbing.

Dr Moynihan (right), the principal of Harris city technology college in Croydon, south London, was one of the authors of a report published by Policy Exchange, a right-wing think tank. The group, chaired by former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore, concluded that heads should have the freedom to hire and fire at will and to ignore national pay guidelines so they could recruit the best teachers. It also carried out some empirical research, which pooh-poohed headteachers' impact on pupils' performance.

The Policy Exchange press release summed up the findings of the report with the headline "Heads make very little difference to schools", an angle that the media was swift to pick up.

Understandably, many heads have been outraged: the Association of School and College Leaders described the report as "nonsense".

But before fellow heads denounce Dr Moynihan as a traitor, and dangle him from a coatpeg by his underpants, they should check out his contribution to the report, a chapter titled "Headteachers can and do make a difference", which actually stands up for heads.

We hope this will give him some protection.

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