War on heads will backfire

2nd May 2003 at 01:00
Your front-page article suggesting that heads are to be "taken out" sends shivers down my spine (TES, April 18). And your leader article is right - it is governing bodies, not education authorities, who will decide whether Charles Clarke's aggressive, bully-boy rhetoric will hold sway.

Sensible governors will not be taken in by the Education Secretary's exhortations that echo football club directors who sack their managers. It does not work in football and it will not work in schools.

In an ideal world, all football managers would be as talented as Ars ne Wenger and Sven Goran Eriksson. In an ideal world, all heads would be superlative and, if they were not, parachuting in a "super head" would solve all the problems.

But we live in the real world - and we know there is a normal distribution of ability among heads and that the commando-style importation of super heads just does not work.

We should not tolerate incompetence - because it is the children who suffer. But the majority of heads range from competent to good to excellent. These heads will perform better in an atmosphere of trust and where their governors offer them both support and challenge.

That trusting relationship must be fostered and worked at - and Mr Clarke's suggestion that governors should be "ruthless" in "taking out" underperforming heads is unhelpful.

Jane Phillips

Chair, National Association of Governors and Managers

Governors, 31

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