Nicky Morgan: Heads should not fear for their jobs

Headteachers should not fear for their jobs after controversial new rules were published yesterday to tackle “failing” and “coasting” schools, the education secretary has said.

Speaking exclusively to TES, Nicky Morgan said the powers contained within the Education and Adoption Bill, laid before Parliament yesterday, would not necessarily mean that heads would lose their jobs.

Under the new laws, up to 1,000 schools judged “inadequate” could be converted into academies over the next five years, while so-called “coasting” schools would be given additional support from “education experts”, most likely academy sponsors.

The proposals could also mean a change of leadership if a school does not make sufficient improvement.

But Ms Morgan appeared to soften that stance on a visit to Passmores Academy in Essex. Principal Vic Goddard recently penned an open letter to the education secretary, describing the pressure that heads are under on a daily basis.

When pressed on the fact that her first act in a new Parliament was to introduce legislation that could threaten headteachers’ roles, Ms Morgan replied: “Why does it mean that [headteachers will lose their jobs]?

“Where a headteacher – and I have been very, very clear on this – has a plan and capacity to improve then we will absolutely put in support and work with those in a position of leadership to make that difference,” she added.

“But I think if you talk to any headteacher – if you are in a position of leadership, whether you are prime minister or a headteacher or me – [you] have to be honest when people aren’t making the grade. [When people] aren’t doing the best for the children in their care then of course we need to recognise that and to deal with it.”

A change in a school’s leadership would be made only “if necessary”, she added.

Ms Morgan was visiting Passmores Academy to hear from staff about what is affecting their school, and others like it, in issues of teacher recruitment and retention and funding.

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