Head teacher inquest - very sad story

(17 Posts)
ReallyTired Wed 01-May-13 14:04:55

I don't think that gifted heads always get a chance to turn a school round.

www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/mar/17/uk-teachers-fear-sack-failing-schools

tiggytape Tue 30-Apr-13 18:29:08

teacher - in the similar cases I've come across it is the Board of Governors who have been sacked (replaced with an interim board) not a Head Teacher who has only been in position for weeks or months.

Of course, where the Head has been in place for 15 years and gruffly declares Ofsted are wrong and everything's fine, a new Head is often found quite quickly.

But there are definitely cases where an absolutely damning Ofsted report has gone to great lengths to say there is absolute faith in a new Head, they have confidence in her leadership and emphasise repeatedly that the inspectors totally believe the Head can turn things around and (unlike others in the school) has a real sense of the schools failings and strengths.

teacherwith2kids Tue 30-Apr-13 18:20:15

Tiggy, not absolutely true about a head not being sacked over a poor Ofsted relating to a period they have no control over.

Where a school goes into Special measures and is forced to become an Academy, my understanding is that the one person whose contract is not 'rolled over' into the new Academy is the head's. In at least 1 case I know of, the threat made very directly to the head (in post for less than a year, with the main reason for school being at risk of Special measures being external exam results taken after the head had been in post only a couple of months) was that they would not be considered for the post of head of the Academy should this happen..

OK, not a 'sacking', but a forced termination of contract....

tiggytape Tue 30-Apr-13 09:11:31

It is very sad - the pressure on teachers and Heads is huge all round - not just Ofsted but so many areas.

Staffing issues seemed to be a big factor here both in terms of disputes, tribunals, problems with recruiting and a long period with no proper Head. Taking over a school in this way after such a difficult period must have been very hard.

No actual Osfted inspection had take place. Schools sometimes do a 'fake Ofsted' where the LA comes in and does a mock inspection and tells them what grade they would have got had it been a real inspection.
Sometimes this reveals horrible surprises and a school will realise at this point that it is in serious trouble or things are much worse than they thought.
This is not because of anything Ofsted did (they haven't even arrived yet) but because having an outside opinion - even if it is just the LA - can sometimes highlight how huge problems are and how much work is needed to turn things around.

This is in turn leads the school to dread the 'real' inspection. Not because they fear Ofsted will treat them unfairly but because they know Ofsted will spot all the things the LA spotted in the mock inspection and they know they'll get a poor grade which has all the knock on effects Pattie describes.

Heads aren't treated like football managers. A new Head would not be sacked over a poor Ofsted relating to a period he or she had no control over. But a poor Ofsted does create huge changes and, in an already difficult school with staffing problems and other issues, this can be hugely stressful and worrying.

FadBook Mon 29-Apr-13 22:13:19

Just awful. My DP is a Deputy head. To not have a perm HT for 5 years is shocking. And then for this lady to come in and unfortunately make someone redundant (and then deal with an Employment Tribunal) must have put an enormous amount of pressure on her.

Ofsted will be blamed. The review of her death might mean some people start realising how flawed the monitoring is with regards to Ofsted <hopeful>

RIP such a sad story hmm

IsobelEliza Mon 29-Apr-13 22:05:09

And in my opinion Ofsted inspections outcomes are not a precise measure, they are quite random. This leaves the whole teaching profession stressed out because they don't really have much control. I read this article without surprise as a teacher myself. I suspect Michael Gove thinks teaching looks like an easy profesion, he imposes even more criteria into Ofsted inspections, parents think all those holidays it must be easy and understnadably want the best for their children but don't understand the cost to teachers and heads.

teacherwith2kids Mon 29-Apr-13 21:54:40

Absolutely agree with Pattie that it's not always Ofsted per se, but the importance attached to Ofsted reports by government, parents and prospective parents, that can make the knock-on effect so large one way or another.

(I am aware of a school that declined from 'Good' to 'Special measures' over a single inspection cycle, lost over half its pupils and will be shut down...all over an inspection from 1 inspector that lasted less than 2 days)

teacherwith2kids Mon 29-Apr-13 21:49:21

Heads I know have been told that they will be sacked on the day after Ofsted if the report is bad.

They have been screamed at by inspectors, and in one case have been spat at by the chief inspector.

They have been subjected to a level of interrogation that is normally reserved for criminals.

As well as that, they have pressure from the governors, and the parent body (who can often be very reluctant to believe that 'their lovely little school' is NOT as perfect as the previous head led them to believe, and thus blame an incoming new head for a perceived 'decline'), and political pressure due to forced academisation. Oh, and the general demands of what can be a very lonely job...

This school is near me. It would have had quite a severe detrimental effect on the school having a less than perfect ofsted. It's in a nice area with middle class parents that would of pulled their children out to send them to a 'better' school.
Ofsted is definitely to blame imo, I hope she didn't die in vain, R.I.P.

Startail Mon 29-Apr-13 21:35:36

Our nice head has left after a bad Ofsted.
They may not be the whole story, but they put good people under unbearable stress.

RIP Helen Mann,

ReallyTired Mon 29-Apr-13 21:30:02

Our lovely head teacher decided to have a complete career change after suffering a nervous breakdown. I feel that the level of pressure that head teachers are under is counter productive. Schools need to be supported to improve rather than failed at drop of hat.

Headteachers should not be treated like football team managers. Sacking the head after a poor OFSTED should be a last restort. There are simply not enough super heads for all of the UK's schools. Average heads need to be supported and trained up to become super heads.

I know that oranges - and I've seen the effects on teacher friends BUT the HT in this case had only been in post for a short time after a lengthy period without a head. Sounds like she had the full support of her governors (as she should have had) but she became disproptionately concerned.

orangeandemons Mon 29-Apr-13 19:49:41

I'm not sure it isn't fair to blame Ofsted. As one who lives under the terror of them, an Ofsted can seem like the end of the world.

Arisbottle Mon 29-Apr-13 19:45:15

It is very sad but there must be more to the story than is being reported, it is unfair to blame OFSTED

I think it's unfair that Ofsted seem to be getting the lion's share of the blame. I read a piece on the BBC about this too.
It's clear from the Guardian piece that a HR issue was a major cause of stress too - and the governors of the school were providing her with support. A case of issues running very deep I think.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 29-Apr-13 19:14:29

Poor Poor woman.

May she RIP. sad

muminlondon Mon 29-Apr-13 18:17:01

www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/apr/29/headteacher-hanged-ofsted-review-inquest

This is so sad. What terrible pressure she must have felt.

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