The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) will seek permission from conference delegates for an improvement programme using expertise from within the profession to help schools raise their game.
Yesterday, the NAHT revealed that nearly 40 per cent of school leaders in England – including many from good and outstanding schools – felt so demoralised by an adversarial climate that they planned to quit the profession, potentially compounding fears of a recruitment crisis1.
The NAHT is proposing to take the heat out of a potential stand-off between inspectors and schools - and introduce a note of optimism - by reducing the threat of dismissal from leaders while their schools join a focused partnership to help them drive up standards.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “There are many reasons why schools struggle, and it is never because staff don't want the best. It is not in the NAHT’s interests to defend under-performance, but a better route to improvement is to build the confidence of schools that they can take the difficult next steps. Too often, the threat of intervention takes away this essential pride.
“The NAHT wants to build on the innate willingness of school leaders to do whatever they can for their pupils. By combining mentors with an insiders’ eye for the job and a robust method of monitoring the quality of the work, we think we can help schools who want to get to ‘good’ within three years but who may lack the resources or encouragement to do so. It seems reasonable to ask that, while schools are engaged in this and showing progress, they are allowed to get on with it.
“Schools should be accountable for their performance. Yet, it is worth bearing in mind that, apart from parents and families, no one cares more about pupil’s achievements and development than teachers. Advocates of ever-higher targets need to understand that the way to get results is to harness the drive and goodwill of school leaders.
“This is early days, and not without its risks and challenges. First we will need to secure a mandate from conference to proceed, and then we need to start small and work up from there. But it seems to us that this is a better way to defend our profession - that success is the best form of protection and the fastest route to respect. No-one should expect us to cut back on critique where it is due, nor to stop fighting what is wrong in the system, but we are delighted that the authorities are recognising the capacity and integrity of the profession by backing this initiative."
1. The 17th Annual Report of the State of the Labour Market for Senior Staff in Schools in England and Wales reports that some 33 per cent of primary, 23 per cent of secondary and 41 per cent of special school head teachers posts were reported unfilled after an initial advertisement in 2011. In 2010 the percentages were 34 per cent of primary, 20 per cent of secondary and 43 per cent of special schools. This suggests all sectors are experiencing sustained and considerable difficulty in filling their posts, with the secondary sector struggling more than most.
Page Published: 01/05/2012