Headteacher dismissals reach new record high

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An annual survey by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has shown that at least 272 school leaders were forced out of their jobs last year for failing to raise pupils' results, many of them in academy schools.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the union said school leaders now faced the sack if their school "had a bad season" or didn't "go up for promotion in the league tables fast enough".

He said: "It's all about this season's results, rather than a long-term view of building up the 'club' and developing new talent. We are not talking about incompetent heads or those fired for misconduct. These are overwhelmingly good school leaders who find themselves in difficult schools facing near impossible demands and timescales for improvement.

"It is perfectly possible to turn around under-performing schools but this does not happen overnight and too often the powers that be have unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved in a short space of time."

Meranwhile, the president of the ASCL, Joan McVittie, said that heads were required to be moral leaders, risk takers, media experts, creative accountants, prophets and networkers, and were faced with an apparently endless volley of criticism from government.

The number of assistant headteacher posts in secondary schools has dropped by 20% in the past three years, according to Data for Education, which analyses teacher recruitment patterns, whilst the number forced out of their jobs has almost trebled in the past five years.

A poll of 1,800 senior teachers has found that half of headteachers would not recommend headship to a colleague and three-quarters of deputy and assistant heads are less likely to want to be promoted than a year ago.

More than half the teachers questioned for the Times Educational Supplement/ASCL survey said they were considering leaving the profession because the government's education reforms were having a detrimental effect on it.

The union said the figures showed morale amongst secondary school leaders had reached a new low, with half of those surveyed saying they would not recommend headship to a colleague. More than a third were actively looking to quit now, and more than three quarters of deputy and assistant heads said they were less likely to go for headship.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "We know that the vast majority of heads are doing a good job, often in challenging circumstances. We're undertaking a major reform programme and their skills and experience are vital."

School Leadership Today
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