Heads ‘fear risking careers at challenging schools’

Mar 16, 2013 by

Head teachers fear taking a job in a challenging school may risk their careers, a union leader has said.

Inspection teams were not giving outstanding heads enough time to turn schools round, said Brian Lightman of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

Good heads in tough schools had lost their jobs within months of starting, he added.

“Too many ASCL members lost their jobs last year,” he said.

“They might have been able to get their schools where they needed to be if only they had been given a realistic timescale to do so with the right support,” Mr Lightman told the ASCL annual conference.

‘Fearful’ heads

He added that many more heads and deputy heads were fearful that the same would happen to them “because of the pressure for immediate results”.

“Head teachers are not commodities you can throw away and we are not exactly overwhelmed with applicants to lead the most challenging schools.”

He called on the Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, to recognise this and to “put a stop to those teams who go into some of our most challenging schools, applying a deficit model of inspection which creates a culture of fear, high blood pressure and lost sleep as people await the dreaded phone call.”

He added that he had been “deeply shocked” by an example from last autumn after a new deputy head with a proven track record started work at a struggling school.

Opting for ‘good’ schools

His work had immediate results, but despite acknowledging this Ofsted inspectors who arrived within two months of his starting put the school into special measures, said Mr Lightman.

He added that the school is now being forced to join an academy chain and the new deputy head may lose his job.

“Other aspirant deputies who know this person will now only opt for ‘good’ schools, saying ‘if this happens to X, it could happen to anyone’,” said Mr Lightman.

Education Secretary Michael Gove was challenged on the subject earlier in the conference.

One head teacher told him she was passionate about her work in a school in a deprived area but feared that it would be “career suicide”, for her to remain there.

Mr Gove said he wanted to encourage and support head teachers in schools like hers.

He acknowledged that “there are great leaders in all schools, including challenging schools” and added that changes to the Ofsted framework were designed to focus inspections on the “value added” – how much progress pupils make from when they arrive at the school.

via BBC News – Heads ‘fear risking careers at challenging schools’.

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