Dinosaur heads frustrate progress

1st April 2005 at 01:00
As a school improvement adviser committed to remodelling the workforce, and a former primary headteacher, it is with great dismay that I learn of the National Association of Head Teachers' withdrawal from the national agreement.

It cannot only be in Doncaster that most primary and secondary heads embrace remodelling and have set about change with imagination, determination and clarity of purpose.

Congratulations to the 9,500 NAHT heads who voted to endorse the agreement.

You have a view of the future that young people deserve.

What can only be a vocal and negative minority seem to have exerted too strong an influence on those whose task, while not easy, has been pursued well.

Judging by the letters to The TES, there are some heads out there who find it easier to hide behind the bluffs that "all this will do is lead to a fall in standards" or "there just isn't the money available in this school" or, worst of all, "I shall not implement the agreement, I shall break the law".

Rather than putting up such objections they should be using their imagination and embracing dispersed leadership and collective responsibility. This of course takes effort and demands collaborative relationships that we see in schools that have successfully remodelled. How sad that some heads choose to demonstrate their "strength" by declaring they are prepared to flout what has already been agreed by the majority, or by saying "give the Government a bloody nose". Wow - big deal!

This kind of thinking is what prevents real reform and the development of learning for pupils. Yet better learning programmes are being offered, and solutions to providing that vital planning, preparation and assessment time for teachers are being found.

Of course it is difficult - what on earth has ever been worthwhile that isn't? But financial hurdles have not prevented other worthwhile developments; why this one?

Those NAHT heads who voted to pull out should hang their heads in shame for giving in to dinosaurs and, in effect, abandoning commitment to providing proper time for teachers. They have also let down support staff, who have been deprived of new opportunities and real recognition for their role in enriching pupils' learning. Is this the way to support and promote excellence of leadership?

Mike Morgan

School improvement adviser

Education standards group

Doncaster Council

The Council House

College Road


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