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Head teachers should be accountable to parents, says NAHT, but don’t try to turn them into politicians seeking votes

Commenting on proposals by the Labour Party to give parents the right to demand ‘interventions’ where sufficient numbers express concerns over a school’s performance, NAHT said a better way would be to confirm the existing powers of governing bodies. 

Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) said: “Heads are not faceless bureaucrats. They are already among the most accountable public servants, subject to extreme scrutiny. Governing bodies already possess the power to manage the performance of heads and parents can already trigger inspections through an anonymous complaint. Shouldn’t Labour’s first job in a future government be to rebuild the confidence of the profession rather than engage in an arms race of tough words? 

“We do not want heads to be constantly looking over their shoulders for approval. Imagine the scenario of a head taking over a failing school - introducing a new uniform, cracking down on attendance, putting in a tough behaviour policy. This may not make them popular in the short term but will raise standards - do we want them ousted by a popular vote? Headship is not a popularity contest. 

“We are keen that schools are accountable to parents, and that parents have a real voice in the running of their local school. So we applaud the principle of a different approach to public service reform, based on engagement rather than markets. We look forward to engaging with Labour on the topic. One way forward would be to split the powers of the governing body between a small, skilled and remunerated ‘Executive Board’ and a large, representative ‘Parent Council’. Board members could have the right to paid leave from their day job and the council could have the ability to 'recall' the board and the sole right to refer complaints to Ofsted and the local authority. 

“Ideas like these would make schools fully and effectively accountable to their local community while allowing head teachers to exercise their professional expertise and get on with the job.” 

Ed Miliband is expected to use his Hugo Young lecture this evening (10 February 2014) to set outline his vision on how state and public services can be made more accountable.


Page Published: 10/02/2014

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