Union slams move for chief executives as school heads

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The Independent Online

Business executives will be brought in to run state schools under a plan recommended by in government inquiry to be published later today.

The report on school leadership commissioned by ministers will say that leaders of the schools of the 21st century need more than just educational experience.

Such a shake-up would involve the biggest change in the way schools are run since state education was first introduced at the end of the 19th century.

The 188-report by the management consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers will recommend employing a wide range of non-teachers in schools - as well as in headship positions. The move coincides with government plans to order all schools to "open all hours" - or at least from 8am until 6pm.

A high-ranking source at the Department for Education and Skills said yesterday: "This is about looking at what is needed in the future as schools evolve to become the centre of the community - opening evenings and weekends and through the holidays, offering adult education, childcare and other services."

But Britain's biggest teachers' union, the National Union of Teachers (NUT), published its own research yesterday, which warned of widespread hostility to replacing headteachers with "chief executives".

The research, compiled by Professor Alan Smithers, of the University of Buckingham, acknowledged that growing numbers of teachers were reluctant to become heads because of extra responsibilities "dumped" on them by government initiatives. But it added that the overall message from headteachers to ministers was "get out of our faces".

Steve Sinnott, the general secretary of the NUT, said: "Recruiting from outside the profession is not the answer. Moves to divorce the leadership of schools from teaching and learning and replacing heads with chief executives will make things worse."