Should parents be able to trigger the sacking of weak head teachers?

Thursday 24th September 2015

According to the New Schools Network, parents should have a legal right to force intervention in failing schools. Other proposed measures (outside of local authority control) could include ordering a school to become an academy.

Nick Timothy, the charity’s director, has said that there needs to be more accountability in the system to allow parents to force through changes when a school is failing. He suggested that the ‘parental trigger’ would be an important legal right to help drive up standards.

The plan would mean that complaints from parents would require the regional schools commissioner in that area to intervene.

The plans have been called “counterproductive”, with the National Association of Head Teachers saying that head teachers are already “stringently accountable”.

General secretary Russell Hobby said that heads are under great pressure “to the extent that we are struggling to get people to do the job. 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”.

According to the deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney, schools are already subject to numerous accountability measures including Ofsted inspections, which can often lead to heads leaving schools. He added that one of the biggest problems facing schools currently is the difficulty of recruiting teachers and head teachers. If any politician were foolish enough to implement this New Schools Network proposal, they would make the situation much worse”.

Sophie Wilson, Employment Legal Assistant at Gordons says “The proposals are not a practical or productive way of dealing with issues in schools. Schools already have mechanisms in place to deal with issues as they arise, and the new plans may mean that schools lose talented head teachers without good reason. There will usually be more than one person accountable for failings in the workplace.”