Diary of a headteacher: A leadership recruitment challenge

Recruiting talented teachers in certain subjects can be extremely difficult and even the most successful schools will find themselves with a shallow pool of candidates for teaching vacancies. If you throw into the mix a number of challenging factors that a school might be experiencing, such as a “less than good” Ofsted rating, a falling roll, financial notice to improve or declining results, then the school becomes a far less attractive prospective employer for the few candidates that might consider an application. The Headteacher writes in SecEd. 

A key aspect of my role as a headteacher is creating the conditions in which my staff can thrive. If the teachers in my school can thrive in their profession then our students will in turn receive great teaching and a great education.

However, I know not all headteachers hold this mindset and I speak to many disengaged teachers who have worked in a school where the culture is driven by fear – fear of Ofsted, fear of results, fear of failure. Our schools should be driven by a culture of love – a love of teaching, a love of young people, a love of learning.

But what about headteachers? It is widely acknowledged that a headteacher’s role is incredibly complex and stressful, but is there a common narrative in the media that outlines a crisis in the recruitment and retention of heads in the same way we see the teacher issue portrayed?

Recently, we have seen it reported that almost a third of school leaders are now leaving within three years of taking up their post. The Department for Education data revealed that of the secondary heads under 50 years of age, who were appointed in 2013, more than 30 per cent had left their post within the same timeframe.

When the leadership of a school is well renowned as having a positive effect size in educational research, should we be worried that our schools are struggling to recruit and retain headteachers? You bet we should. 

It is the headteacher who sets the tone, the conditions and the culture in a school. It is the headteacher who can ensure the school chooses love over fear, and it is the headteacher who ultimately sets the direction for everyone else in the organisation to follow. 

Read the full article Diary of a headteacher: A leadership recruitment challenge

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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