Union chief warns of ‘football manager syndrome’

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School leadership is becoming more and more like football management, with increasing reports of professionals being forced out of their jobs because of poor Ofsted results, it has been claimed.

School leadership is becoming more and more like football management, with increasing reports of professionals being forced out of their jobs because of poor Ofsted results, it has been claimed.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has issued a stark warning in light of a high number of cases during the autumn term.

Figures released by the union during its annual conference last week show that 146 school leaders left their jobs or were forced out between September and December last year. These were all people they say didn’t want to leave but felt they had no choice.

The union said that a high proportion of these leaders cited a poor Ofsted result or unrealistic pressure to raise results as a major factor.

ASCL says that it helped 67 heads or principals out of their jobs during this period and also supported 79 other school leaders, such as deputies or assistant heads, who quit their positions.

Disturbingly, the union says that 34 of those headteachers and principals and 38 of the wider school leaders were actually forced out of their positions. 

General secretary Brian Lightman said the figures could be the tip of the iceberg, as it is highly likely that others have left their positions without alerting the union.

He said: “The feedback we are getting is that not only are they getting more cases of this situation often quite rapidly reacting (to) an Ofsted inspection, we are also getting an increase in the complexity of the cases that people are having to deal with. It’s putting people off going for that top job in that challenging school.”

Mr Lightman said that despite efforts to encourage colleagues to take on roles in challenging schools, 78 per cent of ASCL members say they are less likely now than a year ago to do so.

He raised the issue during his conference address on Saturday (March 22). He attacked the accountability regime, which he said was to blame for the situation: “The accountability system has a lot to answer for. We continue to see schools dropping into Ofsted categories on the basis of one year’s examination results, unrealistic expectation of the time it takes to improve and an intensification of the football manager syndrome which destroys careers. 

“It is no wonder that school leaders think twice when they see these scandalous statistics. It is a disgraceful waste of professional capital. Headship is not a one-year job, it is a long haul.” 


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