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Report criticises Churches on recruitment of school heads

20 October 2010

by Margaret Holness Education Correspondent

CHURCH of England and Roman Catholic dioceses have been crit­icised for inadequate succession planning for church-school headships in the annual employ­ment survey produced by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

The survey suggests that, although the situation improved slightly last year, it was still more difficult for church schools than for community schools to appoint new head teach­ers. Re-advertisements were re­quired for one in four appoint­ments. The most difficult posts to fill are those in Roman Catholic schools. The problem has been persistent for more than a decade, the survey says.

“Local authorities that failed to ensure succession planning to the degree that some dioceses have done over the past decade would have been subjected to intense public scrutiny, not to mention concern over the waste of public money involved in the re-advertisement process,” writes the report’s author, Professor John Howson.

“In an age of austerity, re-advertising is a complete waste of money and every attempt should be made to reduce expenditure, espe­cially if temporary replacements, recruited through agencies, come with a higher price tag than a permanent appointment.”

But the chairman of the Diocesan Directors of Education Association, Colin Hopkins, disagrees with this broad assessment, saying that dioceses throughout the country are working on succession planning with the National College of School Leadership. Some have developed their own programmes. “Most government money for developing this area goes to local authorities, and dioceses have very limited resources.”

The NAHT report accepts, how­ever, that the difficulty of recruiting heads to small schools affects both church and community establish­ments. As head-teacher salaries depend on the size of the school, many potential applicants — dep-uty heads in larger schools, for example — would have to take a pay cut on promotion. They would also have to accept significant administrative responsibilities, combined in many cases with classroom teaching.

Vocation action. The Ripon & Leeds diocesan synod was briefed on the difficulties of recruiting head teachers by the diocesan director of education, the Revd Clive Sedgewick. After hearing him speak, synod members called for fresh action to promote leadership in schools as a Christian vocation. The diocese covers large tracts of rural North Yorkshire, and has responsibility for 95 schools.

“Being the head of a small primary school was once seen as a significant professional aspiration. Yet changing demands, the inspection regimes, workload issues, and other factors make school leadership increasingly challenging and put people off,” Mr Sedgewick to1d the synod.

The education team, which also covers Bradford diocese, was working closely with the National College for School Leadership to encourage potential heads, he said.

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