'Back us or sack us' ultimatum no basis for headship

7th July 1995 at 01:00
The editorial "Managers under fire" (TES, June 9) made a number of valid points but it was a bit wide of the mark on a few issues.

The 68 suspensions of National Association of Head Teachers members do not put a strain on our resources, which are in very good shape. However, to argue that this number could easily be quadrupled if governors were less tolerant is far too simplistic. Quoting statistics on failing schools tells us nothing about the length of time the heads have been in post in each school, let alone any analysis of what is wrong in each institution.

Heads' and deputies' salaries in no way equate with the responsibilities they undertake. Of course,the NAHT supports a boardroom model. Nevertheless, this is not a "back us or sack us" relationship. Such an argument presupposes that such a model produces a "macho" style of operation which schools should emulate. Far from it, but at least chief executives outside schools in such a model often receive remuneration packages which can "soften the pain".

We all know that most governing bodies act perfectly reasonably and in partnership with their heads. If we could reduce the number of incidents where governors act prematurely, it would make for a much better governed system.

The vast increase in caseload, undertaken by our regional officers as a result of governorhead disputes, is caused, to no little degree, by failure to observe established procedures and to understand basic rules by which governing bodies should operate.

An agreed code of practice is a bare minimum. Changes to existing articles of government are highly desirable. I am sure that both the Secretary of State and her Labour shadow understand that only too clearly.

DAVID HART General secretary National Association of Headteachers Boltro Road Haywards Heath West Sussex

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