'We need transparency,' say heads campaigning to scrutinise academies system

CREDIT: This story was first seen in TES
Comments from heads standing as candidates in headteacher board elections come amid concerns about lack of openness over how key decisions are made, TES reports.
Headteachers standing for election to committees that help make key decisions about schools across England have used their manifestos to highlight the need for transparency in the system.
The comments from the headteacher board (HTB) candidates come as criticism builds about the lack of openness surrounding the operation of the boards.
The HTBs challenge and advise regional schools commissioners on decisions including which schools become academies, who runs them, and what happens to underperforming academies and free schools.
Concerns over secrecy have been triggered by delays in releasing records of their decisions, the volume of information that is kept from the public, and a refusal to release the documents they base their decisions on.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, has described the Department for Education’s decision not to release HTB papers as “a very surprising response that is likely to feed a lot of thinking that there is something to be hidden”.
The following candidates for next month’s election used their candidate statements to raise the issue of transparency:

  • Sian Hampton, chief executive of the Archway Learning Trust, who is standing in the East Midlands and the Humber election, wrote: “I want to serve on the Headteacher Board to ensure that there is transparency about its actions, collaboration between partners and the needs of young people remain paramount in all that we do.”
  • Stephen Dunster, of the Stour Valley Academy Trust, who is standing in the West Midlands region, wrote: “If elected my commitment would be to support the HTB to build trust and transparency in to all of the board’s operations and decisions.”
  • Jodh Dhesi, of Parkside Federation Academies, who is standing in the East of England and north-east London HTB, wrote: “If elected to the headteacher board, I would seek to use my influence to ensure that decisions are fair, transparent and based on values and appropriate evidence, all the time understanding the daily work of headteachers and representing our view.”
  • Steve Savory, of the Gloucestershire Learning Alliance, who is standing for the South West HTB, wrote: “I believe a functioning, transparent HTB focussed on developing capacity and school improvement can only enhance the education landscape in the South West.”
  • Barbara Daykin, of the Endeavour Academy Trust, who is standing for the South West HTB, wrote: “As a leader, I’m not afraid to be the voice of reason or to challenge the views of others. If elected to the headteacher board, I will bring an honest, open-minded and transparent approach to the role.”
  • Jo Perry, chief executive of the Delta Academy Trust, who is standing for the South West HTB, wrote: “We continue to work in a period of intense change and I believe that collaborative and transparent practice will ensure that our schools are able to secure the best possible outcomes for children in our region.”

A total of 134 candidates are fighting for 32 places on the eight headteacher boards (HTBs) across England, with voting due to open on September 8.
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