Some of Britain's best headteachers will temporarily hand over control of their schools this summer in an effort to tackle the "scandalously low" number of non-white headteachers in the UK.
Promising teachers from ethnic minorities will be put in charge of successful schools for 10 days towards the end of this term. The heads they replace will be available on the telephone in case of emergencies.
David Hermitt, the head of Congleton High School in Cheshire, is working with the National College for Teaching and Leadership, which is running the scheme. He said the figures for the number of ethnic minority heads in the UK remained "scandalously low", and added: "They have remained stubbornly the same over the years. You have more than 20,000 state schools and less than 500 heads from ethnic minority groups."
If the number of ethnic minority heads were to mirror the number of white heads, based on the number of teachers in each group, there should be about 3,800. Workforce statistics show that the figure for ethnic minority headteachers was 6.1 per cent in 2013, and a closer inspection of the numbers shows only 0.5 per cent of headteachers coming from a black Caribbean background.
"We have got to try to ensure that the workforce that we've got represents the people that we serve," Mr Hermitt said.
In addition to giving the most talented ethnic minority teachers the opportunity to run a school, the programme provides them with mentors. Mr Hermitt himself has taken on that role with an aspiring head, Larry Davis, a deputy head in London, who was given the opportunity to take over the running of a large school in the capital.
Lisa Peterkin, head of St Mark's Church of England Academy in Mitcham, south London, has been successful as a result of going on the scheme. On the school's website, it says: "We have a rich and diverse population at the academy with over 50 languages spoken, meaning we must cater for all and equip our new students with the tools for success."