Net widens to find school heads chief

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MINISTERS HAVE failed to find an acceptable candidate for one of the most important new jobs in education - the head of the national college for school leadership. They are to re-advertise the pounds 100,000- a-year post in the hope that this time they will attract more applications from the private sector.

The Prime Minister has identified himself with the idea of a Sandhurst for heads and the pounds 10m national academy is to open in the autumn. Mr Blair has said headteachers who are not up to the job must go, because they are the key to raising standards.

Fifty people applied and a short-list of four was drawn up but no one was thought to have all the right qualities. The new advertisement will emphasise that the Government is looking for someone with a leadership track record "in either the public or private sector".

An Department for Education spokesman said yesterday: "We had some very strong candidates but no one was felt to have all the right qualities. We are looking for someone at the cutting edge of education and who has an excellent strategic vision and business acumen."

Ministers are thought to be ready to appoint a candidate who may not have been a headteacher themself, but the profession's leaders say the job should go to someone who has filled the role, which needs as much business acumen as that of captain of industry.

David Blunkett, the Secretaryof State for Education, yesterday announced an extra pounds 48m for booster classes to help schools improve national test results.