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Rocester head teacher denies TES ‘culture of fear’ opinion

By UttoxeterPostandTimes.3522974.UttoxeterPostandTimes  |  Posted: February 19, 2014

Abbotsholme School....Headmaster Steve Fairclough with Head of School Charlotte Bishop open new Sixth Form Facility

Abbotsholme School....Headmaster Steve Fairclough with Head of School Charlotte Bishop open new Sixth Form Facility

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A ROCESTER head teacher has said he was ‘misrepresented’ by a national education supplement after he was quoted as saying schools should cultivate a ‘culture of fear’.

Abbotsholme head Steve Fairclough was reported as saying poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their jobs as ‘we don’t want poor performers in our schools’, according to the Times Education Supplement.

The publication quoted him as saying: “Fear is good. Make them fear failure. Make them so scared that if they don’t perform, or if they don’t behave in a way that you want them to, you’ll ask them to leave.

“Say this to any staff room and you’ll see the nods all around.

“The back-row history teacher will guffaw under his breath and you’ll gain approval from somebody else who has just come off Twitter for the first time in the meeting just to listen to how I’m going to expel the only cause of their professional stress. What they don’t realise is it is them that I’m talking about.”

However, Mr Fairclough said this was not the case as ‘through omissions and quotes out of context’ his views were ‘misrepresented’ and he wanted to speak in the spirit of honesty, integrity, humility, respect and courage.

He told The Advertiser: “I appreciate that these reports may have upset some people and I am frustrated that I have placed myself in a position where this misinterpretation has been possible.

“I have a passionate belief in Abbotsholme: in its vision and the education it provides for our pupils. This education would not be possible without the dedication and hard work if its staff, both teachers and support staff; hard work which I recognise and value. Together, we are doing some great things at Abbotsholme.

“I do not believe in managing teachers through a culture of fear. I do not believe that we have a culture of fear at Abbotsholme and I do not want one.”

He added that his speech did mention poor teachers, but said Abbotsholme did not have any. However, if the school did they would be identified through performance management and provided with the guidance and support to help them get better, said Mr Fairclough.

He said: “If they did not embrace this help or simply were unable to improve their performance over time, then I would be letting down our pupils and parents and letting down my colleagues by tolerating this state of affairs and doing nothing.

“In this sense, unrepentant or persistently poor teachers might have something to fear.

“For Abbotsholme to work well, we need teachers to work with energy, enthusiasm and a sense of shared purpose, to provide excellent academic guidance and pastoral care for our pupils. I believe in showing the staff respect, as I would expect people to show respect for the pupils and for them to show respect in return.

“I apologise if the portrayal of my speech has caused you to doubt this respect. Please do not doubt it.

“Let us now work together, in mutual understanding and respect, for the ideals and vision of the school.”

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