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Tuesday, 16 July, 2002, 18:57 GMT 19:57 UK
Mixed feelings from 'super heads'
head teacher Paul Edwards
Top head Paul Edwards is up for it
Successful head teachers in England have mixed feelings about the idea of being asked to take over the running of another, struggling school.


We need to look outside the traditional ways of working

Paul Edwards
The government's plans - on the back of extra funding from the chancellor - are that the best secondary head teachers will become in effect "chief executives".

They will be running about 300 "advanced" schools charged with "levering up" standards in an area - while those who were not up to scratch will be removed.

Garforth Community College in Leeds - now an arts specialist - is the kind of place the education secretary probably has in mind.

Strain

It is an excellent school. Its head teacher, Paul Edwards, has spent 10 months bringing another local school out of the "serious weaknesses" category.

parent Liz Presley
Liz Presley thinks parents would not be happy
He said it was not unusual to be working 10 or 12 hour days while he was doing so.

"That's one of the problems of sustaining that kind of way of working over the long term," he said.

But he backs the government's plans.

"Both sets of children deserve the focus and attention of a head teacher full time, there's no question about that.

Ways around it

"But there are ways of working now that we need to look at, there are different ways of sharing practice that are important.


To run a school well you need to give that school your heart and your soul

Head teacher Chris Bridge
"Children deserve the opportunity to be exposed to the best practice in all different kinds of ways so we need to look outside the traditional ways of working."

Others completely disagree with the idea.

Liz Presley moved into a village near the popular Huntington School, York, so her daughter could get a place there.

Like all parents she wants the best for her child and does not want to share the head teacher, Chris Bridge, with anyone else.

'Not in my school'

She thinks a head should be able to devote his time and energy to the school he was appointed to.

"If our head is not actually in school full time it puts pressure on lower level members of the senior management to try and do the job that the head is here to do and they seem busy enough people as it is," she said.

head teacher Chris Bridge
Chris Bridge thinks each headship is a full-time job
"My worry is that my daughter will lose out," she said.

Mr Bridge agrees with her.

He supports the government because he believes it does care about education - but thinks it is going about things the wrong way.

"I think you can only actually run one school at one time really well," he said.

Energy levels

"To run a school well you need to give that school your heart and your soul.

"You need to be there every day, you need to be walking the corridors and sensing exactly what is happening."

He did not see that turning round a school which others had worked hard at was a part-time job.

"I also do not think that anyone running a successful school has any surplus energy left to run a second place as well."

The government's plans for future spending are published on 15 July

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