Recruitment Of Good Head Teachers Critical

News / January 28, 2016

Crucial to the operation of a good school is a good headteacher but there is a worrying trend developing. Nearly 90 per cent of existing heads say the job has changed measurably over the past five years in both primary and secondary schools.

Unfortunately the trend indicates an entirely negative view. The stress of running a school has overwhelmed around 28 per cent of all headteachers who now feel they will quit the job in the next couple of years. The normal succession process looks at deputy heads to take over but they too note promotion is not the ideal progression.

Countless educational initiatives have been introduced, which along with commensurate targets have disrupted the academic progress of many children. Performance at many schools has been skewed, the headteacher facing undue criticism over the performance achieved watches as the initiative is predominately modified or abandoned. Little credence is given to the damage left in the wake, and the pressure mounts.

The role and manifestation of OFSTED becomes feared instead of welcomed. Inspections that should be rewarding or proactive are viewed with dread. A failing school becomes a target in its own right and the pressure on the headteacher to resolve issues can quickly become insurmountable. The better teachers move on and recruiting good replacements is soul destroying as a self fulfilling prophecy is enacted; good teachers do not want to work at failing schools.

Couple this situation to a national shortage of maths teachers, for example, and the maths target along with the hopes and dreams of many children are dashed. Several recruitment schemes have been attempted to attract top flight graduates. But the reality of a career in teaching falls short of their aspirations and 80 per cent of new teachers leave after two years.

You would expect the crisis escalates in areas where schools are poorly performing. But new a dimension is now occurring in the London and South East; teachers can’t afford to live there. The Head of a top ranked school in Southend recently revealed they had been running the secondary school without a maths teacher for the last year.  Proving impossible to recruit a new maths teachers due to the high living costs the head had resorted to using teachers with no qualification in maths as well as some bright six former’s.

As the number of vacancies rise in the crucial Head Teacher role the Department for Education is attempting to entice teachers and headteachers in a ‘Talented Teachers’ and ‘Future leaders’ initiative. They believe the talent is available for the job but the enthusiasm is not. As part of the project the DfE is attempting to place talented headteachers in failing schools. It will be around 2020 before the result of this concept will be known. In the meantime the number of vacancies for headteachers will continue to rise. Deputy heads seemingly prefer the level they currently work under rather than a job that is growing in stress and workload. Not an easy solution for either side and especially the DfE who are controlled by short term politicians with no experience in the role.

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