What is the context? Headteacher boards (HTBs) are responsible for advising their Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC). Their role is to provide advice, scrutiny and challenge to the RSC, including around which schools can become academies, who runs them, what happens if they fail, and which applications to open new free schools are approved.
The RSCs have significant authority over maintained schools as well as academies. This includes intervening in schools that have met the coasting definition, issuing warning notices where they are concerned about educational performance, leadership and governance or safety, and issuing academy orders for schools judged inadequate by Ofsted.
HTB members are either elected, appointed or co-opted to the board. Only current or former headteachers of academies judged by Ofsted as outstanding or good with outstanding leadership and management are able to stand for election, and only headteachers and executive headteachers of academies the region are able to vote in HTB elections.
ASCL position: ASCL calls for all headteachers to be able to stand and vote in their local headteacher board elections.
In line with the Nolan principles, ASCL also calls for:
Why are we saying it?
- headteacher boards to operate with greater transparency and openness
- conflicts of interest to be managed, and to be seen to be managed, as effectively as possible
Only allowing academy leaders to stand as, and vote for, members of the HTBs disenfranchises the majority of school leaders, all of whom may be affected by the RSC’s decisions. It also means that the HTBs are not representative of the schools in their region.
In addition, we are concerned about the lack of transparency around HTB discussions and RSC decisions. While there are undoubtedly good reasons for some discussions being held in private, the extent to which the minutes of HTB meetings are delayed or redacted is unacceptable. As well as being democratically desirable, greater transparency would help to address concerns about potential conflicts of interest in situations in which members of HTBs have links with schools and academy trusts under discussion.