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Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 00:18 GMT
Schools drop 'superhead' label
David Blunkett
David Blunkett re-opened Islington Arts and Media School
After a wave of resignations from "superheads", schools are now appointing lower-profile replacements.

At Firfield Community School in Newcastle upon Tyne - where "superhead" Carole McAlpine resigned earlier this month - a deputy head teacher of a local school is to become the new head teacher in the summer term.

But the new head teacher, Russ Wallace, is avoiding the media interview circuit and the local authority is not even sure that the new post will be called a "superhead".

Torsten Friedag
Torsten Friedag was appointed and resigned in a blaze of publicity - but his successor is unavailable for interviews
After the publicity attached to being a pioneer of the "fresh start" scheme, in which failing schools are closed down and new schools are opened on the same site, Firfield Community School now seems to be seeking a lower profile.

"The unprecedented media interest" following the resignation of the head teacher has put "tremendous pressure" on staff at the school, says the local authority.

Also unavailable for interview is the new head teacher at Islington Arts and Media School in north London, Dr John Hudson, who is taking up his post immediately.

His predecessor, Torsten Friedag, was the first superhead, appointed to run a fresh start school that replaced the failed George Orwell School.

Special measures

With the school officially re-opened in front of the television cameras by the Education Secretary David Blunkett, and with Mr Friedag earning a well-publicised 70,000 a year salary, the school became one of the most visible examples of how the government hoped struggling schools could be turned around.

But after seven months, Mr Friedag resigned, saying that "the interests of the pupils will be best served if someone with different skills takes the school on to the next stage".

The new head, Dr Hudson, has been a head teacher at another school in the borough, Holloway School, which he helped to recover from being under "special measures".

Dropping the 'superhead' tag

But the local authority says that he will not be available for interviews as it is "in the best interests of the pupils that his energies are entirely focused on their behalf".

The third superhead to resign this month from running a fresh start school has been Tony Garwood at East Brighton College of Media Arts.

The local authority, Brighton and Hove Council, will be advertising for a replacement head teacher later this week - but there is a reluctance to see the "superhead" tag attached to the appointment.

Mr Garwood, who supervised the closure of the failing Marina High School and its re-opening as a fresh start specialist arts and media college, will be replaced by a new head teacher in September.

But the new appointment will be made on the same terms as any other head, says the authority - requiring the specialist skills for heading an arts and media college - but with no mention of "super".

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See also:

10 Mar 00 | Education
First 'superhead' resigns
14 Mar 00 | Education
Second 'superhead' moves on
22 Oct 99 | Education
Failing school gets fresh start
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