Understand more, criticise less

21st July 1995 at 01:00
The letter from Tony Stephens, headteacher of Mill Hill school at Ripley, headed: "Stop whining and enjoy the challenge", cannot be allowed to go unanswered. I note that he is earning Pounds 45,000 a year, but that is the very least he should be receiving as the head of a large comprehensive school.

More importantly, it is about Pounds 5,000 a year more than the average secondary head receives and some Pounds 17,000 a year more than the average primary head's salary. He ought, therefore, to be a bit more careful about accusing his headteacher colleagues of whining about salaries and about the excessive pressures placed upon heads, deputies and other senior management colleagues in the wake of this government's reform programme.

Of course, headship offers challenges, and the crucial role that heads play in moving schools forward has many compensations. However, the simple basic fact remains that too many heads, deputies, and yes, other teachers, are taking early retirement as a result of stress andor stress-related illnesses. What is worse, a large number of these are good teachers that the profession can ill afford to lose.

Tony Stephens, and anyone else of a like mind, should show a good deal of understanding about the plight of their head, deputy head and teacher colleagues by being less complacent about the impact of the national management of the education system, upon those seeking to deliver higher and higher standards under greater and greater pressure.

DAVID HART General secretary National Association of Head Teachers 1 Heath Square Boltro Road Haywards Heath West Sussex

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