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Clegg plans 'champion' school heads
A defiant Nick Clegg will insist today that he is "unapologetic" after criticising a key plank of government education policy as he announces plans to set up a "champions league" of headteachers to turn around struggling schools.
Top performing heads and deputy heads will be recruited centrally then dispatched to primaries and secondaries across England that are failing, struggling to recruit staff, or based in areas of deprivation.
It is hoped that the scheme will mean the teaching equivalents of football's Sir Alex Ferguson will be brought in to "turn Swindon Town into Manchester United", aides said.
Incentives will be offered to attract the best school leaders, which could include better pay, relocation packages and professional development support, though the details are yet to be finalised.
The first team of up to 30 headteachers are expected to be in place by September 2014.
Over the weekend Mr Clegg opened up coalition dividing lines by insisting all teachers should be qualified and the national curriculum should be taught in every school, including the Government's flagship free schools.
The Deputy Prime Minister accused the Tories of failing to enforce "basic standards" in schools as he dramatically disowned key planks of the coalition's education policy, sparking claims of a Coalition crisis.
But he will say that while the view "has sparked quite a bit of excitement", the Lib Dems are right to distance themselves from the Government policy.
" I am totally unapologetic for believing that, as we continue to build a new type of state funded school system - in which parents are presented with a dizzying range of independent, autonomous schools, each with its own different specialism, ethos or mission - parents can make their choice safe in the knowledge that there are certain safeguards," he will say during a speech in east London.
" People have a right to know what our vision for the future is. And explaining that vision is perfectly consistent with the Liberal Democrats being proud of what we have done in this coalition, and continuing to work with our coalition partners to deliver radical reform and the strong government the country needs.
"Being in coalition today doesn't prevent either of the Coalition parties setting out how we may differ in the future. That's how coalition works."
Under the school reforms announced today headteachers will put themselves forward for the talent squad and will then go through a rigorous selection process.
Successful candidates will be matched with schools that have volunteered for the scheme. Extra cash to fund the pay and perks for headteachers will come from the Department for Education's budget.
Mr Clegg is expected to say: " I'm pleased to announce today that the Government will be setting up a programme to get outstanding leaders into the schools that need them the most.
" The Department for Education will be setting out further details in due course. But what I can say is that there will be a pool of top talent within the profession, a champions league of headteachers, made up of heads and deputy heads, who will stand ready to move to schools in challenging circumstances that need outstanding leaders.
"So if you're a school facing tough challenges and finding it hard to recruit an exceptional leader, you'll be able to call on this team and request someone with a proven leadership track record.
"We're looking for experienced headteachers ready for a new challenge, or bright deputy heads looking to take the next step and lead a school.
"If you are selected, we'd need you to make a real commitment to the school, its staff and its children.
"You'll receive help to relocate to the areas where you're needed and the necessary professional support to turn around your school. And we will work to help you in your new role taking on this challenging school.
"T his is entirely voluntary. No one will be forced to accept one of these positions or move.
"We want the first of these leaders to be in place from September 2014.
"Initially the scheme will start small, but our ambition is for this team to become as important to our education system as Teach First."