10 Feb

Who wants to be a Headteacher?

It would appear that there are many headship vacancies. In the special school sector these are currently averaging over 30 a week since the beginning of this term.

In digging a bit deeper, many of those vacancies have arisen because of retirements.

And in digging deeper still, it appears that some are re-advertisements and the number of applicants is very small.

Why?

Are potential school leaders put off by the ever present concerns about accountability?

Will the way we assess pupils ever be agreed and be meaningful to children and their families, rather than be used for “data crunchers”?

Is it because the whole funding of education is under review, not least the unravelling of making funding fair, especially high needs, appears to be too complex and possibly presenting a not so subtle way of making cuts, and therefore unpalatable?

Are the increasingly complex needs of pupils and the difficulty in recruiting staff too much of a daunting challenge?

What can we do?

As school leaders we need to prepare our future leaders with the skills and confidence to face these issues head on.

We need to encourage a “can do” approach rather than an “oh dear” one.

We have greater freedom and opportunities now to provide such support across the spectrum of teaching schools, SCITTs, national support schools, as part of a MAT or federation, and through regional or national groupings.

We need to convince the many talented middle and senior leaders that being a headteacher is a great job.

As serving school leaders we need to show that in challenging issues we are offering solutions not creating problems.

SSV and the groups it represents fully accept the issues are real, but we commend and actively encourage all those who are engaged in supporting those who wish to take up the mantle of headship, now and in the future, to do so now!!

Paul Williams

(NAHT – Executive member representing special school, and Chair of the SEND Council)