Critic in cloud-cuckoo-council

20th February 2004 at 00:00
It is clearly apparent that Steve Munby has never been a headteacher. He seems to know little about their professional work. Instead, he questions their competence in contributing as accredited "critical friends" to other heads in the Single Conversation ("Will heads prove too soft?", TES, February 6).

After the experience of nearly two decades of local management of schools, he displays an arrogance born of ignorance and sourced from cloud-cuckoo-land. Why does he think that local education officers and advisersinspectors hold a monopoly on virtue?

Education departments display excellent work and support to maintained schools. However, many of them also demonstrate considerable weakness:

* They lack strategic vision;

* They have insufficient resources to make any impact;

* They are susceptible to the vagaries of local political control by elected members;

* They lack focus and coherence in their attempts to raise pupil achievement;

* They are often unable to recruit personnel of high calibre for advisory roles.

In short, education departments have lost an empire and have yet to find a role.

As heads, present and recent past, we rightly question their future - particularly in the light of myopic views expressed by some chief officers.

We look forward to developments under a refreshed new government and Department for Education and Skills.

Tony Gelsthorpe

25 Spingfield Thringstone Coalville, Leicestershire

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