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64% rise in heads responsible for multiple schools

Increasing numbers of headteachers are being asked to lead more than one school – but are they being properly paid?

Shared headship is becoming increasingly common; on the Isle of Arran one head leads six primaries

Increasing numbers of headteachers are being asked to lead more than one school – but are they being properly paid?

The number of headteachers in Scotland leading more than one school has rocketed over the past seven years, increasing by more than two-thirds.

The proportion of Scottish school leaders in charge of more than one school has almost doubled, going from one in 20 headteachers in 2007 (5 per cent of heads) to almost one in 10 in 2017 (9 per cent).

Overall, there were 194 headteachers leading more than one school in 2017, up from 118 in 2010 – an increase of 64 per cent.

Shared headships are most common in the primary sector, where there were 390 schools run by a shared headteacher in 2017, an increase of 151 on 2010. In the secondary sector, there were just 15 schools with a shared head in 2017 – but that was still 11 more than in 2010.

There were four special schools with shared headteachers in 2010, a figure that rose to 12 in 2017.

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The figures are revealed in a report by the Scottish government’s Working Group on Headteacher Recruitment, obtained by Tes Scotland using freedom-of-information legislation.

The report went on to question if the headteachers leading more than one school were being properly paid “given the unique challenges involved”. It called on the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) – through which teacher pay and terms and conditions are negotiated – to examine the issue.

It said: “The latest teacher census data indicates that shared headship is an increasingly common mode of working in some parts of Scotland. There is currently no common approach to remuneration of these posts and the working group urges the SNCT, which is the appropriate forum for such a discussion, to look at this issue.”

Greg Dempster, general secretary of primary school leaders' body AHDS, said the method used to determine headteacher salaries predated the “massive expansion in multischool headships”. It was not designed to capture what could be a very different role, he said, and if a head went from being a teaching head to leading multiple schools, it could even suggest a drop in salary.

According to Mr Dempster, this "toolkit" failed to take into account the additional workload associated with leading schools in two or more separate communities which meant developing multiple school improvement plans and attending multiple parent councils, parents' nights and community events.

He called for the toolkit to be reviewed, adding: “We do think that there is a real issue about the applicability of job-sizing in multischool headship situations. We were very pleased to see that a commitment to review job-sizing formed part of the current pay offer.”

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