Best head teachers ‘avoid schools in poor communities’

Too many of the best head teachers work in affluent areas rather than schools in poor communities where they are most needed, England’s chief schools inspector said yesterday. This is from the Times…

Sir Michael Wilshaw said heads should be paid more or offered other financial incentives to lead schools in disadvantaged communities.

Ofsted also wants to introduce a new inspection grade of “excellent leadership”, which would be reserved for the best leaders who successfully lead schools in poor areas, he said.

The move echoes the move by Tony Blair to appoint “superheads” to take over England’s toughest schools

Sir Michael, giving evidence to the cross-party Commons education committee, said headship was now well paid with many school leaders earning more than £100,000 and some leaders of groups of academy schools paid more than £150,000.

But he told MPs that too many of the most experienced heads, who are appointed national leaders of education and can be seconded to support struggling schools, were concentrated in prosperous areas.

“The great challenge for the future is to identify system-wide leaders for our poorest areas because at the moment we have got more good head teachers serving quite affluent communities who are national leaders of education who are asked to go into disadvantages communities to support them, Sir Michael said. “I am not sure they have the necessary skills to do that. Some will, some won’t.”

Conservative MP Graham Stuart, the committee chairman, agreed that current incentives meant head teachers took a risk with their careers by moving to a tough school with lower results, as well as leading a more comfortable life in “leafy areas”.

“It seems to me the riskiest place to be is taking on those challenges,” Mr Stuart said. “That’s where you are going to be branded a failure.”

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