Headteacher board face chaos as elections loom

Headteacher board face chaos as elections loom

The upcoming elections for headteacher boards (HTBs) are “frankly amateurish” and beset with issues, including delays, the potential for all experienced members to lose their seats at once and unregulated lobbying.

Members of the powerful boards, which advise regional schools commissioners (RSCs) on the opening, closure and rebrokering of academies and free schools, face re-election as their three-year terms end in September.

However, Schools Week has learned that an invitation to run the elections has only recently been issued to three organisations, including the Electoral Reform Services, and a winner has not yet been confirmed.

This could mean the new boards are not ready for September with current members having to remain in place longer than intended – potentially until Christmas, according to sources close to the process.

These boards could become a vehicle for CEOs to determine what happens to their schools

But a Department for Education spokesperson denied the newly elected board members would not be in place on time.

The snap general election’s purdah period, which limits civil servant activity, means the board votes could not take place until at least June — a “tight turnaround” according to the sources.

Decisions have also yet to be made on whether current board members should be re-elected, if the name “headteacher board” should change, and who should be eligible to stand and vote.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said the election processes were “amateurish” as a result of the boards’ hasty establishment three years ago.

Rosamund McNeil, head of education at the National Union of Teachers (NUT), agreed, claiming that HTBs were “undermining the role of democratically-elected local authorities” and had only been created to “force schools into academy status”.

During the first elections in 2014, only the heads of outstanding academies were eligible to stand for the boards, which advise each of the country’s eight regional schools commissioners.

All academy heads were eligible to vote for their preferred members.

After the elections, regional schools commissioners also appointed several academy trust chief executives, business directors and consultants to join the elected heads.

But the boards have proved controversial, with members who leave replaced by appointees rather than elected members.

Heads are also increasingly outnumbered by chief executives and consultants. Of 56 members across the eight boards, 19 are chief executives, with two retired CEOs. There are 24 active or executive heads, and six retired.

To reflect the changing nature of the roles, Schools Week has been told the name of the boards might also change. Education secretary Justine Greening is said to favour the current name, but “RSC advisory boards” and other titles are being considered.

The role of chief executives was not outlined during the last election. In 2014, only heads could stand and vote. Discussions have taken place within the education department about allowing CEOs to stand and vote in this year’s elections.

Bousted is particularly concerned the boards could become a “gravy train” for multi-academy trusts if chief executives “captured” the majority of seats. “These boards could become a vehicle for CEOs to determine what happens to their schools.”

Trusts and other organisations also can lobby to get their candidates on to the boards, with no regulations surrounding their campaigns. This allows unions and education campaign groups, such as the Headteachers’ Roundtable or Parents and Teachers for Excellence, to work together to get candidates elected.

Sir David Carter (pictured), the national schools commissioner, is said to be “alert to the risk” of lobbying.

Current board members have also told Carter they are concerned that considerable experience will be lost if all members are removed in September and new members elected.

Carter has agreed it would be “a shame” to lose all academy expertise at once. But a RSC could use their appointee slots for former board members if none is re-elected.

Searchable version of table below;

Dr Tim Coulson, East of England and North East London

Headteachers on board Headteacher’s school
Caroline Haynes Tendring Technology College
Stephen Munday Comberton Academy Trust
Debbie Rogan HEARTS Academy Trust
Margaret Wilson The King John School Academy Trust
Sir Steve Lancashire (app) Reach2 Academy Trust
Dame Rachel De Souza (app) Inspiration Trust
Mark Jeffries (co op) Mills and Reeve LLP
(Roy Blatchford left)

Jenny Bexon-Smith, East Midlands and the Humber

Chris Beckett former head The Deepings School
Christine Linnitt former head Holywell Primary School
Geoff Lloyd former head Tuxford Academy
Andy Burns (app) Redhill Academy
Estelle MacDonald (app) (replaced Hugh Howe) Collingwood Primary, Hull Collaborative Academies Trust
Chris Abbott (app) Hunsley Trust

Vicky Beer, Lancashire and West Yorkshire

Jane Acklam Moor End Academy
Pamela Birch Hambleton Primary School
Martin Shevill CEO Consilium Academies Trust
Karen Bramwell (coop) St Pauls Church of England Primary
Tom Quinn (coop) St John Plessington Cath College/ St Marys Cath College
Sir Iain Hall (left)
Sir Rod Aldridge (left)
Alan Yellup (left)

Janet Renou, North of England

Chris Clarke Queen Elizabeth School
Nick Hurn Cardinal Hume Catholic School
Lesley Powell The Academy at Shotton Hall
Les Walton (left)
Andrew Bayston (app) Northern Stars Academies Trust
Sir Michael Wilkins (coop) former CEO Outwood Grange Academies Trust
Elizabeth Horne (ccop) Horizons Specialist Academy Trust

Martin Post, North-West London and south-central England

Richard Edwards former head Nicholas Hawksmoor Primary School
Sir Michael Griffiths former head Northampton School for Boys
Claire Robins Sir John Lawes School
Teresa Tunnadine The Compton School
Seamus Oates (coop) CEO TBAP multi academy trust
Peter Little (coop) Chair of REAch2
Tony Draper CEO Lakes Academies Trust
Dame Yasmin Bevan (app) executive head The Chiltern Learning Trust
(Dame Alison Peacock left)
(Dame Kate Dethridge left, now deputy to Post)

Dominic Herrington, South-east England and south London

Rhona Barnfield The Howard Partnership Trust
Ian Bauckham The Tenax Schools Trust
Sir Andrew Carter South Farnham School
(Denise Shepherd left)
Angela Barry (app) Woodland Academy Trust
Nikki King (app) Greenacre Academy Trust
Karen Roberts (coop) Kemnal Academy Trust
Alison Beane (coop – also came later) Solent Academies Trust
Mark Ducker (coop – came early Jan 15) STEP Academy Trust

Rebecca Clark, South-west England

Dave Baker Olympus Academy Trust
Lorraine Heath Uffculme Academy Trust
Lisa Mannall Trenance Learning Academy Trust
(Roger Pope left)
Brian Hooper (app) former CEO of Ambitions Academies Trust
Dr Nick Capstick (app) The White Horse Federation
Joy Tubbs (coop) Salisbury Diocesan Board of Education
Alun Williams (coop) Midsomer Norton Schools Partnership
Michael Larsen (coop) Senior Managing Director, Harbert Management Corporation

Christine Quinn, West Midlands

Mike Donaghue John Taylor High School
Billy Downie The Streetly Academy
Sally Yates former head Deanery Church of England Primary School
Sir Mark Grundy (app) Shireland Academy
Linda Davis (app) Wistaston Academy
Kate Brunt (coop – replaced David Seddon) Rivers Multi Academy Trust – St Clements Church of England Primary School
Peter Rubery (coop) Fallibroome Academy