Schools cannot follow health path;Letter

12th June 1998 at 01:00
LET US hope that Margaret Hodge, who chairs the select committee that will look at the management of schools in the future, will not fall into the trap of copying alleged successes in other services ("Heads tell MPs of flaws in overhaul", TES, May 29).

Don Foster's enthusiasm for hospital management cannot possibly be based on a realistic assessment of the present state of affairs.

There are very few doctors who have taken on full management responsibilities within the NHS. They have, on the whole, not seen a need to shed their professional responsibilities for patients, and they have maintained the power of decision-making over their professional activities.

Within some patient areas it has been convenient for a "lead clinician" or "clinical director" to take on managerial responsibilities on a part-time basis, particularly where this allows them to retain their influence and power base.

The trained general managers' role is to influence their culture and challenge their power base. For an MP to say that the chief executive "effectively manages" the hospital leaves many issues unanswered.

The culture in which teachers become "headteachers" who manage the total environment in which teachers work is very different.

A reminder of the dangers of seeing effective management as something removed from the profession is demonstrated by the Israeli report in the same issue on army officers who have become managers of schools: "They all assumed their vision of what had to be done was the correct one: the views of others - the parents, children, teachers, the education authority - did not interest them."

Tim Bos

Principal Parkside Community College Cambridge

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