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EDITIONS
Monday, 26 April, 1999, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Headteachers call for more independence
classroom
Headteachers have to answer to too many people, says union
By Sean Coughlan in Brighton

Headteachers need less interference and greater independence from the government and education agencies, says the leader of a headteachers' union.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, told the union's annual conference in Brighton, that schools were now accountable to too many government bodies and other organisations.

john dunford
John Dunford has called for greater clarification on how the government will introduce performance-related pay
"The job of headship is becoming too constrained, too accountable, and we have to strike a better balance between accountability and the independence of the school within the system."

Listing the authorities and agencies to which headteachers had to answer, Mr Dunford said: "We are accountable to our governing bodies, to the local education authority, the government, Ofsted, the Teacher Training Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, the Home Office, the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission, as well as to parents and the local community."

Mr Dunford also challenged the government's setting of targets to measure educational improvement, drawing a comparison with former Soviet bloc countries that met production targets on time - but only by producing shoddy goods.

Target setting

Target setting and testing also overlooked "some of the most important aspects of school life - breadth of education, pastoral care, relationships, growing up into responsible adults. These will always be a vital part of the aims of our schools, but they are not easily measurable".

Unions 99
Parodying the process of target setting, Mr Dunford proposed a national target for increasing children's shoe size, as an increase in attainment correlated with a growth in shoe size.

While accepting that there was a need for a reform of teachers' pay, Mr Dunford's speech called on the government for much greater clarity in how the controversial performance-related proposals would be implementing.

But while asserting that a "mechanistic system of performance-related pay has no place in a profession such as teaching," Mr Dunford said that he would continue to work with the government on refining the Green Paper proposals and offered no threat of industrial action.

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