Old-school heads will roll

19th January 2007 at 00:00
Traditional role must give way to new leaders from outside world of education, says report

headteachers need to learn to deal with change instead of spending time unblocking toilets, filling dishwashers and avoiding their leadership responsibilities, a major Government report says.

It recommends that the traditional leadership model should be abandoned to protect pupil standards and welfare.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers report, published by schools minister Jim Knight, proposes changes to the law to provide leaders from outside the schools sector, newmulti-agency organisations that combine education, health and social work, and a hearts and minds marketing campaign to win support for the changes.

Draft discussion on remedying the shortage of heads by overhauling leaders'

pay was toned down in the final report after talks with the education department, employers and unions, The TES has learnt.

David Armstrong, a senior member of the report team, said they had initially discussed "radically overhauling" the pay system to take into account changes such as extended schools.

But he said: "By the time we got to the final report and had had time to fully consider the data, we were a little more firm in our view that the existing system was broadly OK and just needed some refinements around the edges."

The unions disagreed. They said that heads had been overwhelmed by 58 new and sometimes contradictory Government initiatives, were vulnerable to sacking for poor test results, and that nobody was willing to fill their places because pay was not good enough.

The Government has pledged pound;10 million to the National College for School Leadership to fast-track leaders to headships.

Downing Street this week hosted an appeal to business leaders for pound;1.3 million sponsorship to train new headteachers. Tony Blair and Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, invited potential business donors and young teachers who are being intensively groomed to become inner-London heads.

Many of the 20 trainees in the first intake have returned to teaching from the private sector, where they worked in industries such as fashion, marketing or tourism.

But the business leaders greeted the funding request with scepticism after some sponsors had their fingers burnt financing academies.

Swati Patel, of finance firm Citigroup, asked ministers whether the Government actually wanted the business community's advice and leadership experience or merely its cash.

The report acknowledges that school leaders are sick of what they call "initiativitis", expressing frustration with a deluge of inconsistent and poorly resourced Government initiatives.

But, it says, the heads were dreaming of a stability and consistency that could never realistically be delivered, and which was not enjoyed by any other organisation in the public or private sector.

The report adds: "We know from other sectors that change, diversity and complexity are inevitable features of the current and future environment, and that leaders need to accept and embrace this."

But the report does say that the Government should manage and streamline policy changes to make them easier to implement.

Full report, Pages 6-7 Leader, Page 26

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