The British government is currently being pushed to find “homegrown talent” for the role of chief inspector of schools in England and head of Ofsted, as news spreads that education secretary Nicky Morgan would like to offer the position to an American educator who is known for being tough on unions.
The position is currently held by Michael Wilshaw, although he is expected to step down from his role at the end of the year. In order to replace him, Morgan is considering the recruitment of an American who has pushed down union resistance to changes in education in the past, in an effort to raise school standards in the UK.
Morgan is said to be considering Dave Levin, who helped to create a successful network of charter schools across the United States. Teachers in New York have accused the leadership of his schools, the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), of pressuring teachers into not joining national teachers unions. The network is also known for not having backed down when faced with mounting pressure from unions to increase pay for longer school days, reports Mikey Smith for The Mirror.
Teachers who find employment with charter schools in the network hold contracts that must be renewed on an annual basis. Free schools in the UK work in a similar fashion, writes Javier Espinoza for The Telegraph.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that there are too many significant differences between the systems used in the United States and the UK, including funding, structure, and unionization. “It would be wrong to assume that lessons can always be imported wholesale,” he said.
“I think seeking homegrown talent might be wiser. Quality of leadership is usually considered higher in the UK, so there’s a good pool to draw from. Our unions are nothing like the US unions in terms of restrictive practices.”
Meanwhile, shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said the UK should be looking on an international level for those who can support innovation while at the same time increasing school standards. However, she added that the government is too focused on school structures and politics, while she feels they should be looking to increase progress within local schools, holding them to account for parents, and helping them to improve.
She said that in order to do that, schools need high-quality teachers. She went on to say that ministers in the country are continuing to fail in the recruitment and retention of such teachers, which in the end has threatened the future economic success of the country as well as the prospects of students as they enter the global education race, reports Richard Adams for The Guardian.
Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “If the government is scouring the world for a new head of Ofsted, they should look to Finland. It is universally agreed to have an excellent education system characterised by co-operation, collaboration and trust – a far cry from the Charter School ethos of the US.”
Candidates for the position are reported to include Joel Klein, the former chancellor of the New York City school system, and three bosses of American charter schools groups.
The plan is considered similar to an attempt in 2011 to hire former New York police chief Bill Bratton, referred to as “supercop,” to run Scotland Yard.