Politicians attacked for short-term, headline-grabbing policies


Educational policies aimed at short-term results and “favourable headlines” are stifling school leaders’ ability to meet the needs of their schools and communities, a leading headteacher has said.

Bernice McCabe, head of North London Collegiate School and co-director of the Prince’s Teaching Institute (PTI), was speaking at the opening of the fifth PTI headteachers’ residential earlier this week. 

She told delegates: “We have educational policies dictated by governments who want short-term results and favourable headlines about rising standards. 

“While this may be understandable, given the huge investment of public money in our schools, it is also unreasonable in that the full effects of the education we provide may not be revealed until years later. 

“Only then can we see whether our former pupils have become effective and successful in their work, fulfilled in their personal lives, and are making an effective contribution to society.”

Ms McCabe said that headteachers attending the PTI events have often discussed the conflict of interests they face.

She continued: “A message coming through from those earlier leadership residentials was the frustration felt by heads who wanted to be able to concentrate on the cultivation of academic excellence, alongside enrichment activities and strong pastoral care.

“To achieve these things, our heads told us, they needed greater freedom to pursue consistent and long-term policies, appropriate to the particular circumstances of their schools, without the distraction of having to meet the multiple demands of different government agencies or the restriction of teaching to minutely specified attainment targets.”

The two-day PTI event was held in Cambridge and saw headteachers come together to discuss the reasons behind successful schools, including sharing best practice about good leadership and excellent teaching. 

The PTI is an independent educational charity created by the Prince of Wales that provides teacher CPD and leadership development. It is based on a belief that subject knowledge and enthusiasm are essential requirements for effective teaching to children of all backgrounds and ability. Visit www.princes-ti.org.uk



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