"A headmaster is believed to have committed suicide on the eve of an inspection of his school by Ofsted."
I'm sorry, but on a day when the Government has announced yet another top-down initiative that is supposed to help our already over-burdened and strait-jacketed teachers, this news from the Telegraph should really be somewhere near the top of the news agenda.
This wasn't even a failing school expecting a bad inspection report "His school opened in 2000 and was last inspected four years ago when it received a glowing report from Ofsted on the way it was run."
Neither is it the first time that an Ofsted inspection has ended in a suicide "In 2000, a depressed primary school teacher with more than 30 years' experience drowned herself after being criticised in an Ofsted report."
I can but echo this week's Social Justice Policy Group's report, Breakthrough Britain, in its call for an end to bureaucratic overload, improved pay and job conditions for head teachers, and improved training to help heads deal with poor pupil behaviour. This is not how a life of public service is supposed to end and our sympathies go out to the family of Jed Holmes and to all who knew him.
In its section on Leadership in Schools, Breakthrough Britain noted:
There are currently more than 500,000 pupils in over 1,200 schools without a permanent head across the country and the following key statistics show the problems being encountered by all schools:
To improve educational outcomes, we need excellent leaders and our view is that there are enough potential and actual leaders in the system to deliver an excellent education to disadvantaged pupils.
- Head teachers are retiring early - the number is likely to rise from 2,250 in 2004 to nearly 3,500 in 2009.
- There are insufficient newcomers to fill vacancies - 43% of deputy heads and 70% of middle leaders don’t want to be head teachers.
- The number of advertisements for all heads during 2006 was above the average and hit a new record in primary schools with around a third having to re-advertise the position.
However, we believe that we need to ensure that aspiring leaders:
- Are convinced that the job they are being asked to do is possible and highly valued.
- Have the freedom and flexibility to meet their pupils’ needs.
- Are properly trained and resourced.
- Are well rewarded for quality performance.