Top heads to be parachuted into schools

By Hannah Richardson
BBC News education reporter

image captionSchools in tough areas can struggle to recruit top head teachers

A "champions league" of leading head teachers are to be parachuted into struggling schools who need new leaders but cannot attract the right people.

Schools minister David Laws says better pay and relocation packages will be offered to attract outstanding leaders.

He told an education conference around 100 heads would be sent to areas where their skills would be most effective.

Schools in tough areas can often struggle to recruit the calibre of staff best equipped to rescue them.

A recent report from Ofsted warned that schools in seaside towns and remote areas can also find it difficult to recruit top staff.

'Forced out'

Under the scheme, heads with a strong track record will be centrally recruited and dispatched to secondary and primary schools in need in England.

Speaking at the North of England Education Conference in Nottingham, Mr Laws said: "This programme has the potential to make a powerful contribution to the education of some of our most disadvantaged children.

"It is about helping schools who want a new outstanding head to find one, providing support to ambitious and aspiring leaders who want to make a real difference by taking on a new challenge, and getting outstanding leaders to the areas of the country where that talent can have the biggest impact."

Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) head Brian Lightman said: "This is a big and important issue to crack if we are to narrow the achievement gap, and it is encouraging to see the government taking action.

"Schools in the most challenging areas need the strongest leadership, but the current climate disincentivises leaders from working in these schools.

"An ASCL survey in October showed that for 78% of school leaders, the prospect of taking on a school in challenging circumstances is less appealing now than it was 12 months ago."

"Too many school leaders have seen colleagues forced out of their jobs when it has been decided that results are not improving quickly enough."

'Better pay'

He added: "School leaders want to make a difference to children's lives, but many are asking themselves why they should risk their careers to take on the most challenging schools.

"This programme will hopefully tackle some of those issues. It is being developed in full consultation with ASCL, and we are optimistic that it will make a difference."

The coalition government has been using the academy programme to improve standards in struggling schools. This means that schools which are deemed to be underperforming, are turned into an academy. This often involves a change of leadership and governance at the same time.

Incentives will be offered to attract the best school leaders, which could include better pay, relocation packages and professional development support, though the details are yet to be finalised.

The initiative was first announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in October.

Dr Mary Bousted, head of the Association of School and Lecturers', said: "The talented leaders' initiative faces huge challenges. Rather than parachuting school leaders into struggling schools, the government's focus should be on supporting schools so that they can develop their own effective school leaders."

More on this story

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.