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Head on the Block
Who is really in charge of our schools – the headteachers or the politicians? Tony Cooper lifts the lid on leading a school at a time of increasing accountability and government interference In December 2011 Tony Cooper retired from the headship of a comprehensive secondary school in Cambridgeshire after almost a quarter of a century in post. In Head on the Block he reflects on the many issues that have affected education over this time, discussing their impact on schools in general and his own school in particular. He places issues and events within a social and historical context, showing how education has been subjected, during the period of his career, to vastly increased political interference. His commentary is interspersed with many personal recollections and anecdotes, both humorous and serious, as he presents a critique of the condition of state education today and how the role of the headteacher has changed. He takes a light-hearted look at his own school and university education and shows how the successes – and amusing mishaps – of his early career impacted on his decision to seek headship. The author loses no opportunity to take issue with the seemingly endless stream of government initiatives which have been flung at headteachers, impinging on the management of schools and unduly influencing the content and delivery of the school curriculum. At the same time he delivers an irreverent swipe at today’s climate of political correctness and the continual need for change for its own sake. Above all, he challenges the current results-orientated, target-driven culture which has been systematically inflicted on schools, making a plea for education to be as broad as possible and enjoyable for its own sake rather than simply a means to an end.