Parachuting NQTs in as heads is a bit of a leap

29th April 2016 at 00:00

Inspired as I am by the prospect of an NQT taking over from me when I eventually retire from headship, I suggest a more radical approach: parachute in an embryo (“New college to parachute NQTs into leadership”, Insight, 22 April). I’m going to check whether my consultant was similarly parachuted in. I realise, of course, that my MP was.

Ian Fenn

Headteacher, Burnage Academy for Boys

In recognition of Donald Trump, I’d like propose a new definition for the word Trump: “To appoint into a position of power someone who lacks skills or experience but can express the ‘right’ opinions.” Political appointments have been made on this basis for many years, so it’s no surprise that Sir Michael Wilshaw et al are keen on “Trumping” NQTs to alleviate the shortage of headteachers.

May I suggest that we roll this out to other professions. The shortage of doctors and nurses could be solved by some vigorous Trumping. Presumably, we can look forward to Sir Michael’s replacement at Ofsted being a proper Trumper. Let’s keep Trumping in the face of knowledge and experience. What could be a better way forward?

Science teacher


I find it interesting that the Buckingham Institute of School Leadership feels it needs a leader who has been a teacher and is a proven head, while the schools it aims to serve would have NQT graduates fresh from university.

Tony Mills

Retired Languages tutor

When assessment spells disaster

Schools minister Nick Gibb need not apologise for the accidental publication of the “live” Year 2 spelling test on the Department for Education website ( Teachers up and down the country will be breathing a sigh of relief that this is one less bureaucratic hoop they have to jump through. As pupils’ attainment at the end of key stage 1 is reported by teacher assessment only, teachers will continue to make their judgements based on a variety of evidence over time. The “removal” of the test in question will, therefore, have no impact on assessments.

But this “deeply regrettable” incident will lead heads to tear their hair out in exasperation, as this latest fiasco merely adds to the controversy surrounding assessment.

Cindy Ashford

Retired local authority assessment adviser

Spare us your enthusiasm

It is laudable that Kim Johnson, president of the NAHT headteachers’ union, wants to talk up the teaching profession (“As leaders, I think we should be the most enthusiastic”, Insight, 22 April) but he misses the point: recruitment would be less of an issue if retention were better.

“We do a great job but it’s not a very good job” doesn’t make sense to him, but it’s how teachers feel. When was his last experience of full-time classroom teaching?

Yes, today’s teachers are “magicians”, but we shouldn’t have to be. It is irresponsible to attempt to attract more people to a profession that is increasingly feeling broken. Until our leaders accept and engage with what the infantry is saying, the retention crisis will continue. As leaders, don’t be the most enthusiastic, be the most well–informed.

Alexandra Skevington

Enfield, North London

Beneath the cloak of anonymity

Your new columnist The Secret CEO shares some useful insights from his/her position in the new edu-hierarchy. Anonymity affords them the privilege to deploy a tone they might avoid if their true identity were known. Moreover, I wonder what this special protection tells us about transparency within an emerging school management system of which many remain sceptical?

Rob Webster

Psychology department, UCL Institute of Education

Workload problems? Sorted!

I wish I were clever enough to work for the Department for Education. They heard a rumour that teacher workload was unsustainable. They found out via a survey that teachers spent a lot of time planning, marking and assessing. They thought about this for a long time and then came back with some recommendations: a) Do less planning; b) Do less marking; and c) Do less assessment. Sorted!

Stephanie Gibson

St Catherine’s Primary School, Bletchingley, Surrey

Facebook users respond to “Why it could be time to ditch the lesson objective”

“Totally agree. Education in general has become too criteria-, objective- and target-driven, thus stifling learning rather than nurturing it.”


“I’ve always thought this. Some of the deepest learning happens when a lesson is allowed to go off on a tangent.”


“But how can a lesson possibly be judged if there are no outcomes/objectives? What hoops will be made available to jump through?”


“Kids feel like once the objective is achieved, the lesson is over. The lack of an objective or aim can enable a child to have their own eureka moment.”


“Learning objectives are ridiculous as children focus more on those than their actual learning.”


“At last! Let’s take education out of its box.”


“I have always had a problem with this – it leaves no room for the children’s own discovery.”


From the TES Community forums

“New college to parachute NQTs into school leadership”


Would you expect a beginner to run any large business within two years of starting? It’s lunacy.

Geoff Thomas

Surely heads should have a track record before being classed as good. Sounds like [Sir Michael] Wilshaw setting himself up for his new job. “We can bring in better people” – that’ll be all their mates and Tories voted out at the next election.


Were there a shortage of good bankers, the banks would pay top salaries to attract the best people – they certainly wouldn’t promote a junior trader or a counter clerk to run the bank.


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