French leaders

14th February 1997 at 00:00
Chris Woodhead's assessment in his annual report of "failing" headteachers (TES, February 7), and particularly his comments with regard to "leadership", make me wonder once again whether any international comparisons enter into his judgment.

In various other countries, such as France, whose educational attainments we struggle to emulate, heads belong to a separate administrative corps and are not drawn from the ranks of teachers, who do not, therefore, look to them for "leadership" in this sense at all.

Indeed, I was never aware that my French colleagues looked to anyone for such leadership: each one thought it was his job to maximise his pupils' progress in his subject and that it was his colleagues' job to do likewise, without the "team spirit" that English educators, and politicians, seem to think prevents the collapse of all morality and civilisation.

Unlike here, most teachers saw little of their head, who was generally judged on his capacity to secure a generous budget and manage it so as to minimise the impact on teachers of never-sufficient resources.

Could it be that over-reliance on some corporate leader to motivate them accounts for our teachers' apparently lower ability to produce results in the classroom? Perhaps the chief inspector could tell us what research informs his judgment on the value of headteachers of our type in comparison with the French model.

MICHAEL E MARTIN 1 Oakland Close Liverpool

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