School leaders’ union says heads are being fired ‘like football managers


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The Independent Online

The number of headteachers being sacked is rising as "football manager syndrome" invades schools, according to figures published today.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said 272 of their members lost their jobs last year, compared with just 150 in 2010. Headteachers' leaders claimed last night that school governing bodies had developed a "football manager mentality", firing heads without giving them time to improve their schools.

In one case, the headteacher of a school rated "outstanding" by Ofsted was given her marching orders shortly after she transferred to an academy that was placed in special measures after she had arrived.

Leaders of ASCL, which begins its annual conference in Birmingham today, say the sackings are the result of pressure from local authorities, academy sponsors and the Government to raise exam results.

The figures add weight to a survey of 1,800 heads and deputies by ASCL and the Times Educational Supplement warning of a crisis in recruiting headteachers. It revealed that three out of four deputies were less likely to seek headships now than 12 months ago. More than half are planning to quit teaching, citing endless criticism of standards from the Government and the new chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw.

"We are not talking about 'incompetent' heads or those fired for misconduct," said Brian Lightman, general secretary of ASCL. "These are overwhelmingly good school leaders who find themselves in difficult schools facing near impossible demands and timescales.

The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, will address the ASCL conference tomorrow. A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "We cannot ignore concerns about standards. We have slipped down the international performance tables and we must rectify this."