‘Parents should not get to sack headteachers’

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THE leader of Wigan’s headteacher’s union has slammed proposals to give parents a legal right to sack school heads.

The controversial measures were put forward by the New Schools Network charity, which is calling for the creation of a “parental trigger” which could also mean schools could be forced to become academies.

The charity, which supports groups that set up free schools, said the radical measures would help drive up standards.

But teachers’ unions branded the proposals “ridiculous” and warned they would turn school leadership into a popularity contest.

Nick Timothy, the charity’s director, said free schools are giving parents greater control over their education.

“But there needs to be more accountability in the system so parents can get the change they want when a local school is failing,” he added.

“We believe the ‘parental trigger’ will be an important legal right for parents and a way of driving up standards in schools that aren’t performing well.”

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), said: “Headteachers are already publicly and stringently accountable – to the extent that we are struggling to get people to do the job.

“Looking for new ways to sack them is hugely counterproductive and an appalling use of the New School Network’s time.

“A publicly funded charity should not be making such ridiculous proposals. The Government would do well to distance itself from these suggestions immediately.”

He added: “School leadership is not a popularity contest; you must sometimes make difficult decisions when you are improving a school. Some of our most effective heads would have lost their jobs under this proposal.”

Michael Wilson, the Wigan Branch Secretary of the NAHT said he echoed the comments made by Mr Hobby.

Highlighting seven key points, Mr Wilson – the former headteacher at Orrell Holgate primary school – believes that such measures would be akin to the pressures put on football managers.

He said: “Headteachers are accountable to governing bodies or academy/free school trust boards that already contain elected parents of the school. Wigan headteachers are subject to the Wigan Council School Improvement Consortium accountability process. A collaborative and challenging approached praised by Ofsted.

“Schools work each day in partnership with parents and other stakeholders. Headteachers should not be subject to ‘football manager syndrome’.

“There are fewer and fewer candidates queuing up to replace those that retire or move to a different school.

“Increasing numbers of schools across the country are finding it very challenging and expensive to replace their head teacher. Many need to advertise several times.

“The 2015 Wigan Education Awards celebrated the high quality of education across the borough of Wigan. Achieved through partnership and dedication of all stakeholders

“Wigan Council and NAHT signed a Leadership Compact agreement in September 2014 fostering mutual respect, assistance and support for school leaders.”