The elite cadre of heads being planned to turn around stalling provincial schools will have to fight “scepticism” from teaching staff unless they are ready to integrate into their new communities, the head of a leadership training programme has said.
Heath Monk (pictured), chief executive of Future Leaders, said those taking part in the new so-called “Champions League” of heads outlined by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg would only build credibility in their schools if they buy houses, enjoy local hobbies and stay in the community long term.
"You had this idea of parachuting... what happened in the past is that people have gone in [to schools] for a year or two, people like Superheads, and I don't think that has worked, " said Mr Monk, whose organisation trains teachers for leadership positions in disadvantaged areas.
He said: “Future Leaders face this challenge all the time, when they go into a school with this title there’s always a scepticism from teachers about that that means.
“It’s about convincing them you are coming in for the good of the community, not because you are coming in to tell them ‘all my London ways’… it’s about saying ‘I’m rebuilding my life and I’m going to move here, and commit here for five years.”
He said the leaders participating in the new Champions’ League would do well to copy the example of some of the Future Leaders programme graduates:
“One of our heads moved across the country to Grimsby, he’s absolutely committed to spending all his weekends doing Grimsby things, he goes to Grimsby football club, he eats at local restaurants, he’s bought a house, it’s all those things that start to show ‘I’m not an outsider whose come to tell you what to do, I’m joining your community, I want to improve things’.”
Speaking at an event last Thursday, Clegg said that heads taking part in the Champions’ League would receive cash to relocate, but Mr Monk stressed money was not the key motivator for most people.
“It’s not about paying people big salaries, it’s about giving people the tools and support once they are there," he said.
He said that Future Leaders was keen to work with the new “Champions League” scheme, as it already had a “pool” of 400 leaders looking for positions.
The concept has been welcomed by headteachers’ unions. Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it had been working closely with ministers on the plan, although a lot of the detail still had to be worked out.
since the announcement this week, several education figures have questioned the name of the new scheme, which evokes European football managers rather than an elite team of educators ready to work anywhere.
"I would hope that was the working title," said Mr Monk.