Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Kent County Council primary schools adviser Simon Webb leaves job amid concerns of 'heavy-handed' approach

Kent County Council has confirmed its chief primary school adviser is leaving his role.

Simon Webb is departing amid concerns expressed by some governors and head teachers the authority has been too heavy-handed in its approach to under-performing schools.

KentOnline revealed in June that 21 head teachers of Kent schools were removed from their posts since September 2012. Of these, 15 were told to go due to performance reasons, five on grounds of conduct and one for an issue not disclosed.

Kent County Council primary school adviser Simon Webb
Kent County Council primary school adviser Simon Webb

KCC said that it had not yet recruited a replacement for Mr Webb, who will retire next month, and could not yet comment on who would act as an interim adviser.

Peter Read, a former head teacher who now runs a consultancy, said: "There clearly is major concern at Kent County Council over the extent of the policy that has been seen.

"Too many heads have been removed. I think this policy has been responsible for a shocking fall in morale among many primary school head teachers.

"I think there's an enormous job to do to restore morale, establish structure that does support heads but at the same time if heads can't..." - ex-head teacher Peter Read

"They have seen KCC being willing to pounce on schools that aren't quite up to the mark and too many heads whose schools require improvement have been forced out rather than the schools being supported.

"One consequence of this is the frighteningly large number of temporary heads in charge of Kent primary schools, which I don't believe improves many of those schools.

"I think there's an enormous job to do to restore morale, establish structure that does support heads but at the same time if heads can't. Because of these actions Kent's reputation among potential heads is bad."

Cllr Gordon Cowan, the leader of KCC's Labour group, said he was unaware of the circumstances of Mr Webb's departure.

"KCC has been heavy-handed in some circumstances. Many heads who have years of experience are fearful for their jobs."

A spokesman for Kent County Council said: "Mr Webb has been employed within the education department of the county council for a number of years and for the past year has been employed as Principal Primary Adviser.

"There is currently no replacement for Simon’s post and we are therefore in the process of considering potential options."

When asked if any investigation into KCC's education policies had taken place, the spokesman said: "There has not been any disciplinary hearing of investigation. It is part of Kent County Council's normal practice to review processes and procedures around school improvement.

Questioned on the number of head teachers who had left their posts, the spokesman said: "KCC has a duty to make sure leadership in schools is doing its job properly and children are not being failed.

Children only have one chance at their education and every child in Kent should go to a good school. The numbers of failing schools in the county is very small with 76% of all schools currently rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. This figure has been climbing steadily in recent years. We work closely in partnership with schools that are judged to be inadequate and those that most require improvement.

“On occasions, this requires a change of leadership and as part of government policy it is usual to move to a sponsored academy arrangement. Kent County Council is proud of its supportive structure for head teachers.

"We have a comprehensive leadership programme which supports existing and potential new head teachers. We currently have no school in Kent that does not have a head teacher, acting teacher or a head of school in place and we vigorously support those that are working hard to improve their schools.”

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More