Azara Blog: Non-teachers should be able to head schools

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Date published: 2007/01/18

The BBC says:

Schools could be led by business and community leaders, a report for the government suggests.

Ministers should look at removing barriers to such appointments, although only teachers should be in charge of teaching and learning, it recommends.

The study, by PricewaterhouseCoopers, comes as heads complain teachers are put off applying for the top job by bureaucracy and a lack of rewards.
...
Schools Minister Jim Knight said that the report's recommendations would be fully discussed with the teaching and support staff unions before any action was taken.
...
Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said head teachers were given an "unending task" because of government initiatives but recruiting from outside the profession was not the answer.

"Moves to divorce the leadership of schools from teaching and learning and replacing heads with chief executives will make things worse," he said.

Leaders of head teachers' unions were divided in their reaction to the idea of non-teachers leading schools.

Mick Brookes of the National Association of Head Teachers told BBC Radio Four's Today programme: "We have no objection whatsoever to people who are outside the education arena working with school teams, indeed being school leaders in charge of schools.

"But we think the direction should still come from somebody who has that deep base and understanding about how schools work how children learn and those skills of teaching that you can only get by doing the job."

The Association of School and College Leaders had proposed the idea to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"We were not saying that people can be brought in from industry to run schools," said its general secretary, John Dunford.

"But the possibility should be opened up that the best of school leaders who are not qualified teachers - the bursars and business managers - should be able to come through to the top job, provided that the person in charge of teaching and learning is a qualified teacher."

Some of the teaching trade unions (especially the NUT) unfortunately still seem to believe it is the 1970s. A good portion of Cambridge colleges are headed by people from a non-academic background and funnily enough the world has not ended. (Unfortunately the outsiders generally come from the Civil Service rather than business, but that is because senior civil servants have an Oxbridge mentality, and most business people do not.) On the other hand, why does New Labour insist on wasting taxpayer's money on vacuous reports from overpaid consultants? Spend the money on something useful, like education.

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