A “culture of separation, exposure and threat” is discouraging teachers from becoming school leaders, heads warned today.
Julia Bosworth, a head for 20 years, told delegates at the NAHT conference in Birmingham, that “the high stakes environment” would put her off if she was considering going into the job today.
“Never has it felt as stressful as it has in recent years,” Ms Bosworth said. “Never have we felt less trusted or respected.”
She was backing a motion calling for her union to analyse anonymised information from members about what was threatening their job security.
“Colleagues [headteachers] have come and gone,” she continued. “But in the past that movement was mainly around natural retirement and career progression. In recent years this has changed.”
Ms Bosworth said there were more stories relating to “post or pre-Ofsted departures, unexplained gardening leave, pressure to take a settlement or face the consequences.”
“If I was starting out now I would be thinking twice about becoming a school leader due to the high stakes environment we are in,” she said.
“Seeing respected colleagues who have given many years of good service leave under negative circumstances does not endear our profession to the next generation of leaders.”
Evidence suggests schools are finding it harder to recruit new heads. Last year a joint TES and National Governors Association (NGA) survey found that more than a third of school governors said their school was finding it difficult to attract good candidates for senior posts.
Ms Bosworth suggested that behaviour of employers might be part of the problem, stating that the union’s officials had warned of “poor practice, policies and procedures not being following, bullying tactics and worse”.
“We hear these stories again and again and yet nothing changes,” she said. “We need to stop unfair pressures being placed on school leaders.”
She urged members to protect colleagues from this “culture of separation, exposure and threat”.
The motion, passed this morning by 99 per cent of delegates, states that school leadership has become “a less secure employment option for teachers”.