Head dogged by scandal to join pet Tory charity

23rd October 2009 at 01:00
Conservatives recruit former independent sector leader who quit in sex-tape fallout

A private school head embroiled in scandal when he employed a teacher he knew had secretly filmed a pupil having sex has been recruited by a high-profile new charity with close ties to the Conservative party.

Tim Hastie-Smith resigned as chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference group of independent schools and as head of Dean Close School, Cheltenham, last October after it emerged he had given a job to a friend who taped a student having sex on a school tennis trip.

Michael Clark, who was later struck off by the General Teaching Council, had been a classics teacher at Shrewsbury School at the time of the sex- tape incident.

In the fallout, Mr Hastie-Smith also resigned the headship of an academy in Kettering he was due to take over this September. A Church of England minister, he said Mr Clark had deserved a "second chance".

A year on, Mr Hastie-Smith has been appointed to the advisory council of the New Schools Network, launched this week to support the creation of independent state schools. The charity has been established by Rachel Wolf, a former education adviser to Michael Gove, the shadow schools secretary.

Ms Wolf said she got the idea for the charity when she visited the Charter School Center in New York, which advises groups wanting to set up charter schools, but insisted it was not a Tory initiative.

But it will support key Tory policies by advising supporting charities, parents' groups and other bodies keen to open their own state schools.

Ms Wolf said she had been keen to recruit Mr Hastie-Smith because of his strong links with independent schools.

"He knows an enormous number of people in the sector and has been talking to them already," she said.

"He has been speaking to prep schools who are very excited by the opportunities . Our education system suits some families, but too many children leave school with no real prospects through no fault of their own.

"We must give those children alternatives. That is why we are going to try to help create new independent state schools that will give parents a second chance to get their child into a good school."

The charity has also recruited Sir Bruce Liddington, the former schools commissioner, who now runs the EACT chain of academies, and Julian Le Grand, a professor at the London School of Economics and former adviser to Tony Blair.

Heath Monk, chief executive of Future Leaders, a charity that develops leaders for challenging urban schools, who has also been named as an adviser, said: "Future Leaders will be working with the New Schools Network on a new generation of leaders in a new generation of schools.

"We have many links with charter schools, where dynamic young leaders have taken on schools and transformed attainment in very challenging areas. We would like to do the same here."

Mr Gove yesterday hosted a meeting with about 100 education specialists, including current academy sponsors, to discuss the obstacles that are in the way of setting up new schools.

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