Too many heads have been sacked because of government pressures to meet targets and tougher school inspections, the leader of the country's secondary headteachers' union warned today.
“Headteachers are not commodities you can throw away and we are not exactly overwhelmed with applicants to lead the most challenging schools,” Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told his conference in London today.
He said he was “deeply shocked” by the treatment meted out to them - including one deputy head with a proven track record in turning round struggling schools who was appointed to a challenging secondary school.
Education standards watchdog Ofsted arrived to inspect the school within two months of the appointment and acknowledged the new head had “done 12 months work in seven weeks”.
However, the inspectors failed the school with the result that it was forced to join an academy chain - under the Government's blueprint for dealing with failing schools.
“The net result is that the new, inspired and inspiring head may lose his job, other aspirant deputies who know this person will now only opt for "good" schools saying: "If this happens to ..., it could happen to anyone."
Mr Lightman's comments come less than 24 hours after an inner city headteacher at the conference told Education Secretary Michael Gove she was committing "career suicide" by working in a challenging school - which could not be rated "outstanding" because of its results.
"Too many ASCL members lost their jobs last year and many more are fearful that the same will happen to them because of the pressure for immediate results," Mr Lightman added. "They might have been able to get their schools where they needed to be if only they had been given a realistic timescale to do so with the right support.
“Undermining and demotivating a whole tranche of aspirant and serving leaders will do nothing to raise standards in our schools and colleges.”
Mr Gove admitted: “Some of those who carry out inspections for Ofsted need to raise their game.”
Both he and Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief schools inspector, said more and more good serving headteachers were now applying to become involved with Ofsted inspections.