The New Schools Network, a charity that sets up free schools, is calling for the introduction of a “parental trigger” that could ultimately lead to the removal of a school’s headteacher.
According to the charity’s press release, the “parental trigger” would:
“allow parents to voice their dissatisfaction and set in motion change, ranging from an immediate action plan through to a change in leadership. The trigger would give parents a legal right to a formal response from their Regional Schools Commissioner” [Commissioners currently only “promote and monitor academies and free schools” ] if [an unspecified] “number of them complain about their local school. If the Commissioner agrees there is a need for change, actions taken as a result of this parental challenge could include”: “an action plan”, “conversion to academy status” or a “change in leadership of the school”.
A more sensational sub-heading in the release, however, claims that the “New law would give parents right to fire failing heads”.
Commenting, Voice General Secretary Deborah Lawson said:
“It can take time to turn a school around. Chopping and changing the headteacher would not provide the stability and long-term vision that such schools need.
“A small but vociferous group of parents with a limited personal agenda – perhaps based on an unjustified sense of grievance or unwillingness to recognise their own children’s behaviour issues – can cause harmful tensions and instability in a school.
“The commissioners represent one of the consequences of the Gove era. He broke down local support and oversight structures with his academies programme – which the Secretary of State ultimately controls from the centre – but commissioners then had to be created to provide local, or at least regional, oversight.
“Extending their remit in this way would be a distraction.
“Schools and headteachers are already under intense scrutiny, minutely examined and accountable to within an inch of their lives.
“Many schools are already struggling to recruit headteachers and there is little incentive to take on a job with increasing responsibility and pressure to perform in a very short timescale but decreasing job security.
“Academies, and to a certain extent, free schools, have been promoted as some sort of panacea that can magically transform education, but, while there are good examples of both, changing the way schools are organised and governed is not a guarantee of success or better education.
“It seems that this is more about the Network’s own free schools agenda.
“Other recommendations in its submission to the Education Select Committee include Regional Schools Commissioners being ‘given targets for the creation of free schools’ and being ‘required to prioritise opening new free schools in areas of low standards’.”