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Catholic schools hunt for souls to become heads

The Roman Catholic Church is attempting to woo its followers in non-faith schools to fill the increasing numbers of headteacher vacancies in RC schools.

The church requires all heads to be practising Catholics and is facing a leadership crisis because of the shortage of suitable candidates.

Latest figures show they are more than twice as likely to fail to appoint a head after advertising a vacant post, compared to other maintained schools.

Last year, advertisements for RC primary heads attracted only three applications on average. Eight people applied for most RC secondary headships, according to a study by Education Data Surveys.

Oona Stannard, chief executive of the Catholic Education Service, said: "I hope that Catholics who are teaching in other schools will consider furthering their careers in Catholic schools."

The National College for School Leadership is launching a module in September tailored specifically towards working in a faith school as part of the National Professional Qualification for Headship.

Peter Walsh, the Catholic Education Service's head of policy, said RC teachers had more opportunities to reach top jobs in Catholic schools because they were often promoted earlier, due to shortages. "We are not saying 'Come to the Catholic sector and you will be promoted', but certainly the opportunities are there," he said.

He hoped leadership programmes being established in dioceses around the country, which may soon be adopted nationwide, would help smooth teachers'

route to the top.

Other programmes that could be adopted include a year-long course in which teachers are given in-depth coaching on how to lead a Catholic school and a fast-track scheme for teachers to develop leadership skills.

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