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Report warns of a future shortage of head teachers

18 November 2016


URGENT Government action is needed to prevent a serious shortage of head teachers and deputies, an education union chief has warned.

In the wake of a report, The School Leadership Challenge: 2022, which predicts a shortfall of up to 19,000 heads and deputies within five years, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), Malcolm Trobe, said: “Many more school leaders will be needed, and action must be taken to address this issue.”

The report was published by three education leadership organisations: Teach First, the Future Leaders Trust, and Teaching Leaders.

The ASCL, the National Association of Head Teachers, and the National Governors Association are jointly preparing to set up a new foundation to develop potential leaders, headed by Sir Michael Barber, a former Government education adviser.

The Church of England’s own Foundation for Educational Leadership is already up and running, as the Chief Education Officer, the Revd Nigel Genders said in a tweet, in response to last week’s reports. The warning underlines the need for this development, he said this week.

About 100 potential heads and chief executive officers of multi-academy trusts are already taking part in the Foundation’s programmes in three regions. More are due to open next year. Places are not limited to those working in C of E schools, Mr Genders said. “We are open to anyone who shares our vision of education.”

The difficulty of recruiting heads and deputies has been a growing problem. In spite of an estimated £200,000 spent on recruitment for heads, and deputy and assistant heads last year, about 30 per cent of advertisements for school leadership posts failed to attract any applicants.

Small schools — officially defined as those with fewer than 210 pupils — are among the worst affected: more than 60 per cent of these are C of E schools, including scores of village schools, many of which have fewer than 100 pupils. The growing shortage of senior staff is being driven by the need to open more schools to cope with the rise in pupil numbers, early retirement by heads and deputies, and the growth of multi-academy trusts (MATs).

“The pattern of school leadership is changing as many become part of MATs, with an executive head or chief officer. As academisation grows, and we open new schools, we shall need around 250 MAT chief executives, in addition to heads,” Mr Genders said.

The new C of E Foundation for School Leadership will be at the heart of a national education conference at Church House on 4 February next year. It is open to heads, potential leaders, and governors of C of E schools and academies, and diocesan education staff. 

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