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Agency charged to hunt for leader

While the National Union of Teachers' leadership candidates are waging the war of the websites and slugging it out on the hustings in draughty halls, the quest to find the next general secretary of the biggest heads'

association is being settled in a very different way.

The National Association of Head Teachers has taken on a firm of corporate head-hunters to help it find a replacement for David Hart, who will retire in August 2005 after more than 27 years as its leader.

And whereas all the NUT leadership contenders have a long history within their union, Veredus Executive Resourcing will also be looking at outside talent for the NAHT.

A job description is being drawn up with the post, currently worth more than pound;97,000, due to be advertised in September and the association's national council expected to make its selection before Christmas.

Like any trade union leader, they will have to be formally elected. But with the NAHT stipulating that only those with a nomination from national council or three of its regions acting together are eligible to stand, there is unlikely to be any opposition.

Insiders say that the successful candidate could, unlike Mr Hart, be a former head, they will also need experience in other areas.

The rumour-mill is already putting out Mike Gibbon, head of the Department for Education and Skills innovations unit, as a possible contender.

Likewise could Sir Bruce Liddington, former head of Northampton school for boys and head of the Government's academies unit be interested?

Mischief-makers are even suggesting John Dunford, general secretary of the rival Secondary Heads Association. Applications from within the union could include Kerry George, senior assistant secretary.

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