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ESF appoints insider to top job

The English Schools Foundation (ESF) has chosen a new chief executive. His name is Mike Haynes and he is the chairman of the Parent-Teacher Association at West Island School (details here) and an ESF executive committee member, but other than that he appears to have no previous experience in the education sector.

The story is covered in today's SCMP by education correspondent Katherine Forestier, who happens to be a member of the same PTA commitee (but neglects to mention this in the story). Inevitably the story has a quote from Nury Vittachi, chairman of the Parent-Teacher Association at Kennedy School (and one-time writer on the SCMP).

This all seems a bit puzzling. The most urgent priority is to implement the budget cuts, and specifically the pay adjustments for teachers. According to Jal Shroff, the ESF (acting?) chairman

The ESF was not necessarily looking for an educator and that there had been a "slant" towards someone with financial experience, as well as knowledge of Hong Kong.

The general assumption was that they would bring in an experienced outsider to sort things out. Instead of which they have appointed someone who is already part of the ESF Executive Committee (the body that ultimately determines who will get the job) and whose previous background is in the insurance industry!

I have never met Mr Haynes, and he might be the perfect man for the job, but if you want to persuade the teachers to accept a pay cut and inspire confidence amongst parents then surely you need someone who knows what they are talking about. The logic is presumably that his experience on the PTA and the Executive Committee give him that understanding, but if you wanted to appoint an insider wouldn't it have made more sense to appoint a professional (for example, one of the ESF headmasters who applied). Or if you were looking for an outsider to come in and shake things up, find someone who is genuinely independent?

The latest news on the pay cuts is that the 10% reduction for new appointments and the 4.42% cut for exisiting staff when they next renew their (2 year) contracts will go-ahead, but the 3% cuts in each of the next two renewals have been put on hold (details in this PDF file). According to the SCMP, teachers are unlikely to agree to this new deal, and will continue to withdraw their goodwill.

Are there any ESF teachers reading this? I'd be interested to know what you think. If you don't know anything about the ESF, start here and then look here.


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