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Are headteachers up to the job in today’s world?

Mar 28, 2012

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of the conference last week for the Association of School and College Leaders in Birmingham.

That’s when Sir Michael Wilshaw, the country’s chief school’s inspector, told them that some headteachers were not good enough to do their jobs.

It was something of a battling performance – he had gone to placate the conference about the various changes which are being planned – and ended up being accused of presiding over a ‘climate of fear’.

With 900 heads, deputies and assistant heads in attendance, Sir Michael, who is a former headteacher himself, tried to reassure people by saying: “It should be an expectation of all of us here to lead good schools. The reforms that we are proposing are about helping you to do that.”

Few would disagree with that assertion. However, it was the thrust of his other comments which caught my attention.

The head of Ofsted says schools have become ‘surrogate’ families to pupils due to bad parenting and that teachers are being forced to step into the ‘vacuum’ and set good examples ‘where few exist at home’.

Here at Teachfind we keep on stressing that this is not the role of teachers though it’s a growing expectation of society.

In addition, the words of London mayoral candidate Boris Johnson last week are also a source for concern.

He believes that some London schools are ‘chillingly bad’ and now wants extra powers to tackle illiteracy and innumeracy, claiming that in seven boroughs one on four youngsters leave school functionally illiterate. In some schools it’s at an astonishing 50%.

How can this be so? Sir Michael raises a fair point when he says that a school with two consecutive satisfactory ratings will see pupils having six or seven years of mediocre teaching when something drastic is needed.

With all the extra investment, the initiatives and incentives for teaching to deliver young people who can read and write these figures do the teaching profession no good at all.

So we have the chief school’s inspector claiming that many heads just aren’t up to the job but the job of teaching, and especially that of being the headteacher, is quickly evolving into something that doesn’t come with a clear job description.

Indeed, during the conference, headteacher Graham Betts, from Leicestershire, warned Sir Michael of the "corrosive effect" of constant negative statements on education.

Something needs to be done to improve the reputation of education because last year saw a record number of head teachers being sacked and, as a result, we are seeing fewer deputies willing to take the step up – and who can blame them?

The current situation would barely scrape a ‘satisfactory’ from many teachers working today and that is fair reflection on a ‘mediocre’ Sir Michael who should be offering a drastic solution which will help headteachers cope better with their jobs and of our expectation of them.

Daily Mail conference story http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2119660/Schools-left-teach-value...
Boris Johnson Guardian Interview http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/mar/23/boris-johnson-bad-schools...

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of the conference last week for the Association of School and College Leaders in Birmingham.


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