Head hired to train leaders led school to failure

29th July 2011 at 01:00
But he was fired before he had a chance to take up prestigious new post

The headteacher of a school when it went into special measures was recruited by a Government quango to train the next generation of school leaders - and was then fired before taking up the role.

Simon Hill was chosen as a consultant to coach and mentor ambitious teachers doing the National College Tomorrow's Heads course, despite the fact that Ofsted had heavily criticised his leadership work.

Four years after he became headteacher at Darton High School in Barnsley it was given an inadequate rating by Ofsted.

Mr Hill left shortly after the inspection, which took place in January 2010, by "mutual consent", and set up his own consultancy business a month later. He now charges pound;75 per hour or pound;400 per day for consultancy work, and pound;200 for training sessions.

In their report, inspectors said Mr Hill had "not provided the strategic leadership necessary to bring about improvement" and did not "provide a clear direction for the work of other leaders and managers".

Despite these comments and the school's rating, Mr Hill, who had taught for 28 years, was recruited by the National College in March 2011. He had been to some introductory meetings with the teachers he was due to mentor, but formal coaching had not started. The revelation about Ofsted's report put paid to the work.

On his website, Mr Hill says he has also worked as a coach for two other National College programmes, Leading From the Middle and Leadership Pathways.

He became head of Darton High at Easter 2006 after two terms as acting headteacher and a spell as deputy head.

That year inspectors praised his "rigorous self-evaluation" and "effective and incisive leadership".

Responding to the appointment, Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads' union the NAHT, said consultants working in schools "had to have credibility".

"The important thing was that there seems to have been a mechanism in place to react to this situation, when somebody has slipped through the net, and when people have raised concerns the National College have dealt with that," he said.

A spokesman for the National College said: "The quality of our programmes and those who work on them is extremely important so we take this issue very seriously.

"No head or former head can hold a key role on the college's leadership development programmes with a track record of low grades for leadership and management.

"We therefore looked into this issue immediately and the individual in question no longer works for the delivery provider supporting the programme."

When contacted by The TES, Mr Hill said he was abroad on holiday with his family, and it would not be "appropriate" for him to comment.

Original headline: Head hired by quango to train leaders led school to failure

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