Action plan to solve recruitment crisis

It will come as no surprise to senior management and leadership teams to read of the growing recruitment crisis in schools.

A few years ago, it was commonplace for some senior posts to attract over 100 applicants. Now, even the most attractive posts are lucky to have enough for a short leet, let alone a long one, and re-advertise-ment is frequently necessary.

There are a variety of reasons. An unintended consequence of the McCrone agreement was to shift more responsibilities and pressures on time and workload on to senior management, since posts disappeared but authorities expected the responsibilities to be discharged.

Previous surveys show that there has been a reduction in time demands on teachers, but they have grown for senior managers.

For many years, too, the message from authorities and the inspection process is that the headteacher's role and responsibilities are crucial to the success of any school.

Salary is a factor, together with the iniquitous job-sizing toolkit. Heads in comparable schools in England earn 30-50 per cent more, depending on their board of governors. Job-sizing has left many deputes earning the same as or less than faculty heads. What incentive is there to take on more responsibility?

Some heads earn less than their deputes in smaller schools, which is particularly prevalent in the primary sector where colleagues are faced with a steadily worsening position.

Since there is no immediate prospect of any fundamental change to job- sizing or improvement in the salary position, other factors need to be addressed. These involve dealing with work-life balance issues.

School Leaders Scotland has been campaigning for the following changes: improved administrative support to relieve this burden for many senior managers; a winding down scheme which would allow existing senior managers to coach and mentor future leaders; improved health checks and support for dealing with stress; and opportunities for sabbatical arrangements which would allow emerging leaders an opportunity to gain experience and the postholders to be refreshed.

The Scottish Government needs to produce an action plan to address these issues or else the crisis will deepen.

Brian D Cooklin, president, School Leaders Scotland.

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